Several years back I was asked to preach at the local High School Baccalaureate ceremonies for the graduating seniors. I remember then realizing that this may be the only sermon that some of those young people would ever hear. It was almost like the classic scenario in which someone would ask me and say, “If you could preach one thing to this generation, and give them one piece of life-changing advice, what would you say to them?” At least that was how I took it. After much prayer, Bible study, and thought, the Lord showed me something that I have been preaching ever since, and will continue to preach for as long as I live. It may not be that profound, but without question it is fundamentally true, and the longer I go, the more clearly I see that today’s generation of young believers need an industrial strength dose of it, as well as the entirety of this whole lost world. I think preachers need to preach it, and I think teachers need to teach it, I think believers need to live it, and non-believers need to hear it, and that is this:
Never, no never, no never, follow your dreams . . . follow the Lord.
As we approach this spring season, and with graduations upon us, there will be countless speakers come across countless stages and with messages to the multitudes, and maybe not on with a one to one ration, but fairly close, the message will be something to the effect, “follow your dreams,” or “follow your heart,” or “you can achieve your dreams” or some other rephrasing of the soul-killing kool-aid that everyone loves to drink.
The truth is that “following our hearts” and “following our dreams” is as antithetical to the gospel as black is to white. Following our dreams and hearts is in direct rebellion to the call and commands of our Lord; and in my estimation is one of the most dangerous subliminal messages the devil has successfully communicated.
From the very beginning of the gospel thought our greatest problem is our hearts and our dreams. Isaiah said it plain when he said, “All we like sheep have gone astray, every one has turned unto his own way.” The proverbs explain to us that “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Paul declared in Romans, “they have all gone out of the way.” Jeremiah reminds us that our hearts are “deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know them.” I believe that we could reasonably say this, when anyone is following their own dreams, and walking their own way, then by default they are living like they are lost. No man is more lost, than the one who is doing exactly as his natural desire pleases. Now we know a saved person can never be lost again, but he can sure live like it. The reality is that our dreams and our hearts are our greatest problems, and giving them to spiritual causes changes nothing as long as we have declared our independence from the Lord. An independent heart sounds romantic, and wonderful, but is soundly void of any Biblical praise, and in fact is still nothing more than a nicer way to wrap rebellion to the Lord. The late great Adrian Rogers once said, “Giving my heart to Jesus was the last independent decision I made.” There will be nothing more tragic, nothing more defeating, than finding someone climbed to the top of the ladder of their dreams, and find out it was leaning against the wrong wall. As someone once said, failure is nothing more than succeeding at the wrong thing.
What is the gospel call? Come to Jesus. Follow Him. Note what Jesus said in Matthew 16:25 – “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake the same shall find it.” He said in John 14:3, “I am the way, the truth and the life no man cometh to the Father but by me.” As I heard an old preacher proclaim it this way one time, ” I am the way – walk me;” “I am the truth – teach me;” and “I am the life; live me.” In first Peter 4, speaking of the saved, Peter said “he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” What I am saying is that no man can follow his dreams and his Lord at the same time, until it is his dream to follow the Lord alone.
The glory of the Lord is that He has given us a free will, and then tells us how to use it. He gives us a free mind, and tells us what to think. He frees us from the prison house of our will’s so we can be living servants of the risen King. There is in fact, no greater life than the life the Lord has planned out for us. The Bible makes it clear that we can make our requests known, and in fact should make our requests known. Yet, we make our request accepting the Lord’s answer long before we get it. There is nothing wrong with taking our desires to the Lord and seeking His will and guidance for them. In fact we’re wrong if we don’t do that. However, when we look through the Bible it is not uncommon to find people getting what they want, but not wanting what they got. The answer to that is to always let the Lord do the wanting for us.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
All of that being said, Jesus is Lord. Never follow your dreams, let the Lord open your doors; you’ll always be more satisfied when He gives you what He wants you to have, than when you take what He’s not willing to give. The only thing we are to desire or pursue or chase in this life is His will for our lives. Any other philosophy or way of thinking is not a change worth making.