I can be a bit of a grouch sometimes. But I’m working on it. Specifically, I’m trying to learn to see life through the lenses of Christian hope, the hope I supposedly profess.
Recently, my wife and I had the pleasure of a brief vacation down in Carlsbad, just a bit north of San Diego. The city is home to LEGOLand, which at our stage of life isn’t much of an attraction. But just down the street is a place known as The Flower Fields, where every spring you can see acres of different varieties of ranunculus in bloom. We enjoy having flowers in our front garden, so thought it would be worth a look.
After all, we have to do more on vacation than just eat.
Carlsbad is near the Pacific coast, so it was misty and cool the morning we went to the fields. We stood in line, paid our admission, and walked in.
Immediately, I was disappointed. There were nicely arranged displays of flowers in containers and beds, but beyond them, I saw only green fields — the flowers hadn’t bloomed yet. That’s not fair, I thought silently to myself. They build this place up with pictures of whole fields of flowers in bloom — but if the flowers aren’t blooming, then what did I pay to see? I dutifully trudged through the displays: Yes, yes, that’s nice. But I still felt cheated.
Then my wife noticed. Way down yonder, at the other end of the property, was a section in bloom. Apparently, not everything was coming in at once. At the south end, near the entrance, most of the flowers were still in the bud. But things changed as you walked farther north.
At first, there were only scattered blooms. Here and there, a few flowers popped out brilliantly from the surrounding greenery. I confess, though, that I was still wallowing a bit in my negativity. Here before me were beautiful, eye-catching wonders — and my attitude was still, “That’s it?” It was only the promise of what I could see in the background that helped me appreciate what was right in front of me.
And if the truth be told, the field at the north end was beautiful. We were greeted by row upon row of blooms, pink giving way to orange giving way to yellow. All around people were crouching down with their cameras or snapping selfies.
It was a bit of a walk. But it was worth the wait.
So what does this have to do with Christian hope?
I wonder sometimes if we paint too rosy (“ranunculus-y”?) a picture of the Christian life, as if walking with Jesus meant the end to all of our problems. Just believe — and then watch your life bloom!
Of course, it’s not that simple. Things bloom in season. We look around, and if we don’t see what we had hoped, what we had been promised, we may be disappointed or even disillusioned.
We have to keep walking. We have to adjust our vision, so that instead of being disappointed by what’s in front of us, we begin to see it for what it has the potential to be.
And to do that, we have to look to the horizon, to the glorious place we will eventually be if we just keep putting one foot in front of the other. If we don’t, we may not be able to appreciate the blooms that pop up now and again to remind us how things will be when we get where we’re going.
Christian hope doesn’t promise us a garden now, in this lifetime. But by God’s grace, we’re granted blooms that will point us toward the future, if we’ll only notice them for what they are.
And little by little, we might even learn to be less grouchy today.