Living the Dream?

“You’re living the dream.” A customer on the phone said to me. It’s nothing I hadn’t heard before, but it made me wonder. Am I really?

And in fact, my initial internal reaction was not positive. I almost laughed, but managed to catch myself. Why did I feel irritation instead of pride or pleasure? Why did I inwardly sneer? I half wanted to say:

“Do you have any idea how hard this can be?”

To be living the dream, your dream, means you have arrived at your destination, right? You have overcome the odds, and are somewhere up above all those little people who are still only dreaming and not living.

But this call came after a tough week, when things were not going as planned. I won’t bore you with the details. It’s life, it happens. And in case you’re wondering, yes, it happens right there in the middle of living your beautiful, hard and messy dream.

What dream are we talking about here anyway? For me, it’s a simple one. Self-employment, a piece of land, making things with our hands, and selling them. I’m not talking about ruling the world, or even being someone wealthy.

But everyone has a dream, right?

Or is that just me projecting my desires onto others? Maybe not everyone.

But if you don’t, isn’t it only because you are fighting just to survive? Just to make it through the day? Maybe the junkie only dreams of his next fix, or the drunk his next bottle. But given the chance, I have to believe that the human spirit wants to rise up, to overcome, and do what brings it joy.

But, don’t be naive. Your dream has a price. Most everything does. To follow one path necessarily means bypassing other paths that may be just as worthwhile. Supposedly 85% of people worldwide hate their jobs. I don’t know how you survey a enough people to come up with that statistic, but let’s assume Google has it figured at least somewhat close. You have to ask why so many continue to work at jobs they hate. But anyone who has been there at least partially understands the answer. It is probably often just a case of being stuck financially. But even if you can afford to do something else, it’s usually easier to stay where you are then to leap into the great unknown.

I remember a day, many years ago, when I was just about to start a new job that I knew I didn’t really want, in spite of it paying better. But I felt I needed to take it, to better support my family. At the same time, I was looking for a simple way to make a living at home instead of punching a time clock. In my mind, I saw myself as two people, one doing what I felt I had to do, and the other one running after what I really wanted. It took five years to merge the two together.

I have wondered if life is like one of those books where you can choose what ending you like the best… Or if it’s already all planned out for you. And in the midst of all the other questions we all ask at some point, there is a big one: how close do we come to finding God’s will for our brief days here in this life? I believe that jumping off the cliff into my dream was God’s will. But believing a thing is not always the same as knowing it as fact, as much as we want it to be so. If you know something is true, like you know the things you touch are real, where is the need for faith? Doesn’t faith always leave room for doubt? Or am I walking on thin ice here?

Is knowing something is God’s will possible? Why sure, if we’re talking about God’s will that you accept his Son’s sacrifice for your sins, or that God wants you to become more Christ-like. Those are spelled out plainly in Scripture. But God doesn’t seem to write most people a letter telling them what college to go to, or what job to take, or when to quit a job, or even who to marry. We can believe we know we have those details correct, but do we really know them with rock-solid certainty? And some of you are now wondering if my wife is going to read this!

So let me try to climb out of this hole I’ve dug myself into.

First read Psalm 37:4:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Here we have a promise with a condition. We probably all like the idea of God giving us our desires. but he ain’t going to do it if our desires are the opposite of what is good for us. I finally watched the movie: “Samson”, because it happened to be on Netflix. And I think Samson was a perfect example of a man who often  ran ahead of God, pursuing his own desires. And it got him in trouble again and again. In Luke 12 Jesus gives us a cure for this malady.

“Seek ye first God’s kingdom and all these things will be added to you.”

If Samson had stopped and listened for God’s direction before proceeding perhaps he could have fulfilled God’s will without having to lose his eyes, his wife, and his life.

Perhaps every crossroad in life contains many good choices, that each take us into God’s will, instead of there being only one possible road that is right. And each cross road can take us down a multitude of wrong paths that all lead us away from God’s will.

“Yes there are two paths you can go by but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”  (“Stairway to heaven”) Generally speaking, Robert Plant may have been right with that song lyric. but I have to think some people go too far down the highway to hell to get back onto The Stairway to heaven. But that’s not you, because if it was, you wouldn’t be at all concerned about it. So, if it is a question of what road you’re on, there’s no time like the present to get on the right one.

But as far as living the dream goes, (Talking to those of you who are on that stairway) I’ll just say what I have come to believe: Yes, God wants you to have the desires of your redeemed heart, but not the desires of your wriggling, whispering sin nature that keeps trying to sneak his way back in. God promises you joy, but not joy as the world gives. It’s not about how many dollars are in your bank account, or how many cars in your driveway. It’s in living the dream he has given you… And if there are actually a hundred or a thousand such dreams, you can still be content that you’re on the right one, if you’re on it with Him. God is a lot more concerned about your heart being in the right place then he is about what career path you follow.

Shalom and thanks for listening.

 

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Rachel Svendsen

Reading. Writing. Me.

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