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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


Daily Boost

April 22, 2014 - Who Needs Johnny's Garden?

By Bob Caldwell

My wife and I spent an astonishing eight days in Hawaii last year. It was our first trip there, and we were both amazed at the beauty and wonder of it all. I thought then (and through our cold winter) that I could get used to living in that sensational paradise.

One morning at the hotel, our waitress mentioned something about her mother back in Iowa. I asked how the server came to live in Hawaii from Iowa. The woman explained that several years prior she had visited a friend in the islands, went back home, sold her possessions, and returned to live.

To support her desire to live in Hawaii, the lady was working in a restaurant whereas she had a more lucrative career on the mainland. But to her, a middle-aged woman with no husband or children at home, the trade-off was worth it.

I heard several similar stories during our vacation. Each time it reminded me of a song by Stephen Stills from 1972 titled "Johnny's Garden." In 1970 Stills moved to England and bought an estate called Brookfield House from Ringo Starr.

The home had previously been owned by actor Peter Sellers. It came with a gardener named John who had been employed there for many years. Stills found Brookfield House so relaxing he composed the song that immortalized the gardener and the idyllic estate:

There's a place I can get to?
Where I'm safe from the city blues?
And it's green and it's quiet
Only trouble was, I had to buy it

And I'll do anything I've got to do
Cut my hair and shine my shoes?
And keep on singin' the blues
If I can stay here in Johnny's garden

Stills kept singing on the road so he could afford to live in Johnny's garden. (Eventually the infatuation wore off, and he sold the estate and moved to Colorado.) I thought especially of the chorus when speaking with people in Hawaii. They were so in love with the islands they would completely rearrange their lives to be there.

If I had my way, I would live in Hawaii. I hate the cold and snow. I love the tropical breezes. I could live with the "monotony" of no seasons.

However, Hawaii is too expensive for my wage-earning abilities. I have a wife who might not mind living there, but it's too far from our kids. I also have responsibilities to the organization to which God has called me. So for now Hawaii is only a dream.

I mentioned about how much I would like to live in Hawaii on a Facebook status. A lady who attended a church I pastored 20 years ago reminded me I often spoke about being content with your situation in life. (Don't you hate it when people quote yourself back to you?)

But she was right. A favorite verse I would often quote was Philippians 4:12 — "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want" (NIV).

Hawaii is awesome. If I moved to England, I would probably enjoy Brookfield House. But for true contentment, all I need is to be in God's will. Knowing you are in the place and situation that God wants for you is better than Johnny's Garden any day.

— Bob Caldwell is theologian-in-residence at Network 211 and an adjunct professor at Global University, both in Springfield, Mo.




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