As I pushed my cart full of bagged groceries out to my car, I made eye contact with a gentleman that was walking towards me.
He had one hand in each front pocket of his jeans (thumbs casually hooked over the rims), as he nonchalantly strolled across the parking lot. It looked like he did not have a care in the world or a pressured sense of time on a clock.
I smiled and said, “Hello.”
He reciprocated with a serene, “Hello.”
My brain is then trained to ask the routine question, “How are you?”
Typically people respond with one of the following habitual phrases: “I’m doing well.” . . . “Fine thank you, and how are you?”. . . Or here in the south, you can sometimes catch an upbeat, “I’m blessed!”
But not this guy in the parking lot of Harris Teeter. His response to my perfunctory question caught me off guard.
Without hesitation, he answered in the most laid-back tone, “I’m living the dream.”
When I heard this unexpected response, I chuckled to myself. After loading the next bag of groceries into the back of my car, it felt like a revelation crashed into my head at full speed. The Holy Spirit was prompting me to ask him another question . . .
“SIR!” I yelled towards the store, “WHAT IS ‘THE DREAM?’ ”
But at this point, he had already walked too many paces past the sound of my voice.
I really wanted to know what his answer was, but I also did not want to appear like a crazy stalker lady. So as I drove away, I just kept thinking about the possible answers:
His carefree tone gave me the impression that he just quit a job he hated and walked out of the office. (This certainly sounds like a dream to many.) Or maybe he just found out that his wife is expecting? Perhaps he just won the lottery? Maybe it is all of the above or none of the above? Sadly, I will never know.
For the rest of the afternoon, I could not get this curious thought out of my head . . . What does it mean to be “living the dream”?
I suppose the answer to this question is relative to individuals. Each person has their own vision of what a dream life looks like.
The following passage popped into my head when I meditated further on this question:
“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.” (Philippians 1:21-24 NLT)
Paul is not describing the “American Dream.” No mention of a house, 2.5 kids, white picket fence, and an adorable dog. Nor does he discuss opportunities for successfully climbing the corporate ladder, equal rights, or freedom.
Few would describe Paul’s experiences as a rich and to the right dream life. There was no pursuit of personal happiness. His life included being stoned, and multiple accounts of being whipped, beaten, shipwrecked, and imprisoned.
Yet . . . Paul feels privileged in his life. As a matter of fact, he is so dedicated to LIVING for Christ that he can’t decide which is better: to die and go to heaven, or remain living on earth to tell others about Jesus. Not for his own sake (because he was already confident in his eternal destiny), but for the purpose of leading others to Christ.
Paul proclaims it would be better to remain on earth--suffering for the Great Commission. Does this sound like “living the dream” to you?
To unbelievers, this life on earth is everything. It’s all they have--which means temporary pleasures do sound dreamy.
But to those who have an eternal perspective . . . growing closer to God in a personal relationship, developing spiritual fruit to become more like Christ, and spreading the Gospel is LIVING THE DREAM!