Saturday, November 28, 2015

Where Hope Grows

Our Thanksgiving feast was over, family had returned home for the evening, and our older two children were in bed for the night. Shawn and I decided to end our Thanksgiving Day by snuggling up on the couch with our baby and watching a movie. Our choice was the inspirational film "Where Hope Grows," which I had been eager to see for awhile. This must-see movie tells the story of a former major league baseball player named Calvin who is now an unemployed, single parent with a major drinking problem. His alcoholism has caused his teenage daughter to become increasingly estranged from him. His life is falling apart, but while shopping at the grocery store one day he meets a young man with Down syndrome, affectionately nick-named Produce (since he works in the produce section). Calvin is taken aback but later drawn by this young man's cheerful and affectionate personality as well as his optimistic outlook on life. Some of his more memorable quotes include, "I'm doing good. Even when I'm doing bad, I'm doing good." "Maybe you just need to smile. A cheerful heart is good medicine." (That last quote tickled me. Produce is quoting Proverbs 17:22, which is the content of one of Benjamin's favorite songs!) The two men form an unlikely friendship that alters both of their lives forever. In time Calvin addresses his drinking problem and begins to rebuild his relationship with his daughter. Ultimately, he is able to be there for Produce in the midst of a life or death crisis. It is a very touching film.

While we were watching the movie, I was captivated by all that Produce was able to do. He was living independently, holding down a job that he took great pride in, communicating clearly and effectively, and building and maintaining meaningful relationships. He acted as a gentleman and as a hero. He also pointed others to the true Source of his happiness--Jesus Christ. As we watched I felt hope rising in my heart again for my son Benjamin. Sometimes the demands and challenges of the present cloud my vision for what his future can truly be. I needed the encouragement. Presently, I have an affectionate six-and-a-half year old who is non-verbal, still wearing diapers, mesmerized by toys and movies designed for babies and toddlers, and requiring care for almost all of his basic needs. Sometimes the weeds of discouragement and disappointment try to choke out the hope in my heart for my son. I love him intensely, and I want him to live a rich and fulfilling life. I want him to be able to express the things in his heart and to enjoy meaningful relationships. I want him to be able to live with a sense of purpose, doing things he loves to do and experiencing the joy of accomplishment. Most of all, I want him to be deeply rooted in relationship with Jesus Christ, knowing that he holds such immense and eternal value in the heart of God. 

I was reminded this morning of Romans 8:24-25 which says, "For we were saved in this hope, but that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." In context this passage speaks of hope for eternal glory, but I believe there is a principle here that can be applied to those things we hope for this side of heaven. Where does hope grow? It grows in the fertile soil of faith--faith in the goodness of God, faith in His promises, faith in His perfect plan. True hope grows in faith and is watered by love. I am thankful that on Thanksgiving Day, the Lord lovingly used something as simple as a movie to water the garden of my heart and to cause hope to rise again!