His name was Jimmy and he was a college senior still wet behind the ears, birthed into a society that told him to dream big and to make that dream a reality.
He asked to sit at my table in the student center so his computer cord would reach the outlet. I said yes and we began talking. Jimmy had a wide smile and a dark complexion with hair that swooped up over his head. He began prodding as I ate my Chick-fil-a sandwich, asking what I studied and where I worked. I knew this conversation would probably turn into a blog post so I thought about what his ethnicity was and before I had a chance to ask, he told me he was Indian. But alas, this is not a post about race.
He was studying finance and accounting.
“But that’s not what I really want to do,” He said quickly, trying to redeem himself, as if the field of finance and accounting wasn’t cool enough for today’s world. “I want to open a car repair shop.”
Jimmy’s innovative idea was to open a repair shop with hours between 6 p.m. and 4 a.m. so that people who worked late could still take their cars in for repairs. I could tell that he really loved cars and he said he bought his first car for $50.
“I grew up always working on cars with my dad,” he said, clearly brought to life just by talking about it.
Full of drive and ambition he continued the conversation asking what my dream was and what I wanted to do.
My dream had been to play in a symphony orchestra. My dream had been to publish a novel. My dream was once to work at a newspaper and be a foreign correspondent. But after living a little, and experiencing some hard things, I have come to notice that life is more than dreams.
I didn’t really tell Jimmy what my dream was. I mentioned East Africa and wanting to work for the United Nation. But then I wondered what Jimmy would be like in a few decades, maybe forty or fifty years from now. I pictured him looking back and thinking, “What happened, I thought this dream would make me happy?”
And I began to ponder the issue with the idea of “dreams.” Perhaps that’s it. They are just ideas. It seems like people have an idea of what will make them happy and they gamble their life on it, working tirelessly to get that one thing, or job, or spouse.
Although I’m probably tool young to be talking about life as a whole, I feel like the book of Ecclesiastes is right in saying that everything in life apart from God is like chasing after the wind. Every hope and dream will come to nothing. And at the end we will all lie in our coffins waiting to be buried.
When my close friend John died last fall, they published an article about him that said he dreamed of opening a coffee shop. But as his friend, I know John’s life-worth wasn’t in this dream. He put his worth in the saving work of Jesus–and he used this love of making coffee to bring glory to God.
I recently heard a talk by Tim Keller where he said that young people are more likely to believe there is something in life that will satisfy them. But I suppose anyone who has lived life without God would probably say they really thought there would be more in life.
As I left Jimmy, still smiling at his computer, I wished I had told him that God loves him. Despite what trials he will face as he pursues his dream, God loves him. God loves him when he succeeds and when he fails. And when there’s nothing left in life to live for because it has all disappointed him, God still loves him and because of the saving work of Jesus Christ, life is worth living.