It’s very easy to go to California and begin a list of “I wants.”
I want that body!
I want that car!
I want that house!
I want … to live here!
California is no stranger to these desires for since its acceptance into the United States in the year 1850, it has seen tremendous population growth. Initially, the rush was over the gold discovered just prior to US Statehood, but with the introduction of a new century, and the advent of new technologies yielding new cultures (movies, that is), California soon became a staple of American pop culture and an intended destination for many for most, if not all, of the century.
Recently, my wife and I took a quick road tour of some of Southern California’s finest. We perused the Gaslamp District of San Diego, shopped the Promenade of downtown Santa Monica, dipped our toes in the salt water of the Mission Beach coastline, walked the sidewalk of Hollywood Stars and posed with some of the finest wax figurines, and even cruised Mulholland Drive overlooking the home to over ten million people; Los Angeles.
And, that’s not even mentioning Sea World: San Diego! But, all the enthusiasm I have for that theme park is for another time. Otherwise, I’m likely to go way off track. Let me just put it this way: go! Go to Sea World!
That being said, there’s much to enjoy in California!
However, I have been told that the problem with San Diego is that it’s always sunny and warm. Always.
Read that twice, because the first time I did, I didn’t get it.
What my friend was pointing out is there is no change in San Diego’s climate. It’s always sunny and warm.
Without the bitter the sweet ain’t as sweet.
And, change is a good thing!
The thing I like most about the winter in Montana is that I know summer is coming! I mean it! I’m not a skier. I don’t prefer the snow. I certainly do not enjoy shoveling it, and, personally, I’d love to not need a truck with 4×4! But, even on the grayest and coldest of winter days, I can find joy in knowing that summer is on its way, and it is awesome!
Didn’t Jesus tell us the same thing?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
That comes from John 16:33, by the way, and it really sums up all our fears and worries. See, the Christian truly has the ability to live without fear. It doesn’t make us immune to problems, or even terror. But, we need not fear it. Jesus has overcome! Summer is on its way!
Ok, maybe my winter/summer analogy is a bit far reaching, but it works for me! Nonetheless, I can imagine that living in “an endless summer,” can, at times, cause one to feel a bit enclosed, or limited to say the least. We thrive when we have variety. History has taught us that, time and time again. The thing that I need to remind myself of when I travel, especially to destinations that resemble some semblance of paradise, is that the beauty is in the travel. Not the destination.
Jokingly, I told my wife that if we moved to the beach, we’d become fat because all we’d do is sit on the beach. Sit. On the beach. Two things that lead to the leading causes of death: obesity and cancer. Yikes!
Well, as it turns out, there may be some truth to that. According to usnews.org (citing gallop), five of the nine US States that have a less than 20% obese rate are located in the mountains. Only one US State with a major coastline is considered “slim”, and that does happen to be California, but I’m willing to guess it’s due to the mountains in California since there seems to be a connection with mountains and fitness. (I did happen to find a visual representation of CA counties and [childhood] obesity, here, and it looks like I’m right. The “heaviest part of CA is its coastline!)
However, the point is not to pin one place against the other. I have my favorites as well as other’s have theirs. And, really, one of the things I love most about being American is my right to travel within my country. When I want, I can go to the beach, or the mountains, or the lakes, or the cities. It’s great! It is one of the great qualities of being American. And, the truth is, no matter where you live, you can find great things in your own community. And, if you’re hard pressed to find them, then maybe it’s your time to shine? Maybe YOU are the greatness of your community?
I want California like I want Montana. Or Florida. Or South Carolina. Or Michiga…wait. Not Michigan. Just kidding!
The goal is to not allow the greatness of any community be its superficiality. Instead, allow the greatness of a community be that which Christ came to redeem; its people. The people are what make a community great. Everything else is stuff that doesn’t really matter.
As I once told my mom, I’m glad I don’t live on the mountain top. For, if I did, what, then, would I strive for?
Go. Strive. And be the greatness in your community.