On this National Day of Prayer, let us gather in God’s steadfast presence and recount his protection and provision. Surely the existence of our nation could not be a more perfect demonstration of God’s guidance and blessing; in God we trust! Speaking of, this word stands out in searching the praises of God in the NIV Bible: “Surely.” Though not a one-to-one translation from Hebrew, “surely” emphasizes what is evident, true, certain, and inevitable — calling us boldly to remember, trust, and be assured as the truth is spoken and waited upon.
Gardeners, what better way to heed the call to remember or be reminded than to play a memory game with flowers in the garden? Seeing a certain bloom or flourish appear is a bright, cheery association for recalling a truth, tale, or action item…much more enchanting than tying a string around the finger! Surely Jesus knew this as he looked upon a field of wildflowers, and assigned their splendid display to the task of prompting remembrance of the Father’s provision:
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”
Luke 12:27-28 NIV
Now let’s have a little fun in a word-play on “surely” and “Shirley,”* a name among many for one of the most boldly blooming wild flowers, Papaver rhoeas. Common poppy, corn poppy, Flander’s poppy, and red poppy are all names for this annual flower species, and Shirley poppies are a cultivated strain of this infamous flower native to Asia and Europe, growing across the fields of the Holy Land.
Word-Play in God’s Word
Aren’t you being a bit irreverent, Shelley, with this goofy pun? Hardly! The Word of God is filled with word-plays, a quality that continues to delight and draw me in the more I discover their evidence. Of course, catching the humor of puns requires a dashing grasp of the language in which they are played, a full understanding of idioms, homophones, homographs, and homonyms, and deft ear to their quip and nuance. Most of us do not know Hebrew that intimately, and miss out on this dimension and inside joking in God’s Word. However, it does not take very long in living the faith life — and certainly no time at all in the gardening life — to realize a subtle humor taking place as events and happenings play out. General consensus agrees that God has a sense of humor!
Back to “Surely” Poppies
A sense of humor is a sign of good health; loving, thriving relationships will have a sing-song tease and banter which helps to bring light and liveliness to life. Join me in this handful of magnificent praises and promises, brought together by the pleasantry of “surelies.” May you claim and take deep to heart all that God will do, just as surely as poppies bloom Israel’s late spring countryside.
Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God.
Job 22:26 NIV
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
Job 42:3 NIV
Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
Psalm 5:12 NIV
Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
Psalm 21:6 NIV
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Psalm 16:6 NIV
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6 NIV
…but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.
Psalm 66:19 NIV
You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.
Job 11:16 NIV
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.
Psalm 32:6 NIV
Find many more Scriptures with “surely” in this search at Blueletterbible.org
In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
Isaiah 25:9 NIV
*Of course, this whole essay rests on the hilarious humor of “Airplane!,” the 1980 movie that made an ongoing ruse of “surely” and “Shirley”
©2019 Shelley S. Cramm
“Surely” or common poppies begin blooming in a garden bed, Irving, TX
Vivid red poppy flower amidst pale green foliage
Bright poppies stand tall in garden flower beds
Poppies look floppy, how’s that for a word-play? Papery-appearing petals ruffle in garden breezes, while buds flop over until unfolding upright to bloom.
A garden planting reminiscent of the red profusion of wildflowers that bloom in the Holy Land in the spring — left to right, red crown anemones, red ‘peppermint stick’ tulips, and red poppy seedlings. Though merely 4 inches tall in early March, the poppies grew to nearly 4 feet tall this week!