"Living the dream!" I don't know if I ever heard him say it quite that way, but in every sense of the phrase, that is what Billy and his wife were doing. They were living the dream in the unique way they were meant to do so. But, you may not have recognized it quite that way.
The first time I visited their new home, then still in the final stages of construction, it was a slight challenge to get there. Making my way north on Highway 7, out of Russellville, Arkansas, I eventually made my way onto a gravel road that snaked along the base of a mountain to the right and looked out over a grassy field to the left. It was a sunny summer afternoon and the dust rolled up before me, stirred by the vehicle I was following to show me the way to Billy's home. After a few miles drive on the dusty gravel road, we turned left, down an embankment and into the pasture field that lay between two stretches of the Ozark mountains. We made our way across the field, coming to a creek of considerable size that flowed along at the base of the mountainside. Stopping to survey the terrain and determine how to proceed, I decided that my four-wheel-drive SUV was capable of continuing the trek. Billy and his sons had carefully rearranged and placed river rock in the creek to make for a low water crossing that was sufficient to allow us to ford the creek. Immediately on the other side of the creek bed, a steep pathway had been cleared of trees, brush and obstacles, wide enough for a vehicle to climb up about a hundred feet to the site of the home that he was building.
Yes. You heard that right...Billy was building this home. He designed, plotted and built, with the help of his two adult sons and his wife, this quaint home that was perched there among the trees and overlooking the creek and meadow below. Billy had not only designed and built the home, he had even utilized an old sawmill to cut the lumber from timber harvested from the area. He had determined that the home would be an adaptation of the homes of an earlier era in which oil lamp light and woodburning fires provided light and heat to its inhabitants. The water supply was fed by a spring and a cistern, as such, was used for storage. Plumbing with a gravity system would make possible the modern conveniences of running water in the kitchen and bathroom, complete with shower.
As I emerged from my vehicle, perched on the incline, I saw the cabin that had been erected there on the side of that mountain. It was an impressive site to see and to know that it had been produced by the skill and hard work of this man, his wife and sons. When I would visit them again on later occasions, I saw the beauty that had been integrated into the structure. Things such as an ornate repurposed front entrance door, stained glass and other furnishings and fixtures, added a rustic, yet artistic ambiance. I've always considered Billy somewhat of a rennaisance man of sorts. He is intelligent, a skilled craftsman, musically talented, a writer and an artistic story teller. He is a man of the earth and yet a man who has traveled outside his culture and country. He has served as a pastor, a mail carrier, a musician, teacher and a youth worker. But, no matter what course life has taken him, I would venture to say that he would tell you that he is "living the dream."
Think about your life. "Living the dream" means so many different things to different people. I suppose my point in using that phrase, which is flippantly tossed around tongue-in-cheek, is that there is a life for each of us that is the right fit. There is a pathway and a plan that has purpose and produces good things.
In this installment of the P365 Blog, I have asked travel photographer, Elliott Chau, to share some thoughts about how he has discovered purpose and joy in the unique pathway he has taken. Watch what he has shared with us in the video below. Then, we will wrap it all up on the other side with some closing thoughts.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Elliott challenged us to consider the overall question of the purpose of life...Why am I here? In considering that question, he directed us to the words of Jesus, as he responded to a law expert about the greatest commandment in the Old Testament. Jesus, without hesitancy, quoted from the Shema (a portion of Deuteronomy 6 that became a part of the daily prayer of Jews), that stated that loving the "Lord your God" is the first and greatest commandment. He then went on to paraphrase Leviticus 19:18, saying the second greatest commandment is to "love your neighbor as yourself." As Elliott explained, and Jesus taught, when we redirect ourselves to that overall purpose of loving God and loving others, "everything else lines up."
Brennan Manning, author or The Ragamuffin Gospel, wrote, "My deepest awareness of myself is that I'm deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I've done nothing to earn it or deserve it." 1 John 4:19 states, "We love because he [God] first loved us" (bracket added). The only way that we can love God and love people, in the powerful way to which we are called, is to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That is the God who pursues us...who pursues that relationship with you.
This really is the over-riding determiner of living life to the fullest and with blessing...to live a life of love. Elliott reminded us, just as Jesus taught, loving Him leads us to obey his commands. Obeying His commands, leads us to love Him and others. We can't go wrong with that perspective and pursuit. No matter what direction our unique pathway of life takes...based upon our experiences, opportunities, families, passions and skills...when it is lived within the context of the Great Commandments, it will be lived well...we will be "living the dream." The beauty of that reality is, whether you're a renaissance man living in the Ozark Mountains, or a travel photographer living in the tropical resorts of Bali, God has a plan that is even better than "living the dream."
Elliott Chau is a travel photographer who circles the globe, capturing the beauty of God's creation to share with the world. He lives out his purpose by sharing the love of God with those he meets. Check out his Instagram account here. You can also check out his website at www.lifewithelliott.com.
What does loving God and loving others look like in the purpose you are living? How has the love of God impacted your life and led you to love others? Like, comment and share to get the conversation going.
With over forty years of ministry experience, Randy Kinnick continues to live a life of pursuing the purpose for which he was created. Whether teaching God's Word to adults, coaching youth and young adults in finding their purpose, or caring for the hurting and abused in Southeast Asia, the adventure has taken him around the world in ways he could have never dreamed. The adventure continues!