“Follow your dreams”
If there’s one statement that sums up the overall American mindset for the last hundred years, it’s that. A relic from our ancestors’ “American dream,” exalting dreams to a status they neither deserve nor can fulfill is almost in our blood.
And for the follower of Christ, dreams must first be submitted to His lordship and, if He asks it of us, must be put to death. We don’t like hearing that. It grates against our deeply ingrained need to control our futures. It stuns our pride. It irritates us to think we might not get the future we hope for.
#1–Dreams are subjective
What our dreams are–for family, career, success, achievement—are entirely subjective to us. They are based on our limited knowledge, inability to know what is best for us, and incapability of predicting the future with any clarity or assurance.
Today, you cannot know if you will land your “dream job” ten years from now. And even more, you don’t know that job would be what is best for you or most glorifying to Him.
Today, you cannot know if you will marry that person you have your eye on two years from now. And you have no power to force it to happen.
Today, you cannot know if you will have the house or car you want. Once more, you don’t know that you would glorify the Lord if given it anyway.
Today, the future is a big “IF” except for the follower of Christ; His return is surer than the rising of the sun, the same one that has been setting and rising since Adam and Eve’s day.
#2- We Fail Our Dreams
You have absolutely no power to make your dreams come true. The Lord can thwart any plans He chooses (Proverbs 19:21).
Perhaps it hurts to think that He would intentionally thwart or delay what we want most in life. Perhaps it pricks your heart to think the Lord would have different plans than yours.
If so, perhaps your god is yourself.
Dreams are not bad to have until they encroach on the throne of your heart and attempt to choke out your trust in God’s plans. Our futures are in no way dependent on our own power; all that comes to us is a gift from God that we did not and could not earn.
We have no power to make even our most dearly held dreams come to fruition. The power of change does not lay with us but with God (Daniel 2:21-22).
#3– Dreams Fail Us
Dreams cannot save you. Even if you got everything you’ve ever wanted: a perfectly physically attractive, godly spouse, your dream car, your dream job, your dream house and your dream vacation every year, still you would not be fulfilled.
You would find something else to dream about, to chase and lust after. Because we always do.
There’s incessantly more to be consumed with in this world and none of it satisfies our restless hearts for more than a moment. If that were the case, we’d only have to buy one thing (and buy it once) to be satisfied.
But we have industries that make billions of dollars every year on repeated purchases when we run out of something: eyeliner, chips, soda, clothing.
When we’re on our deathbed, as we all will be sooner than we like to think or realize in our everyday thought-life:
Our dreams aren’t going to matter. We’re going to lay there, not having fulfilled every single one (or perhaps any of them.) We won’t have traveled to that place or said those words or become as great as we thought.
And we will find that dreams cannot stave off death.
We will see with alarming clarity that our dreams die with us and are not a ticket to immortality.
We will find that our big dreams were no bigger than the grains of sand easily blown away by the sea’s wind.
So let us pursue our dreams insofar as they are in accord with Scripture. Whatever we do, let us do it doggedly for the glory of the Lord but always be ready in our minds and hearts to abandon what He asks us to abandon or to pursue what He wants us to pursue, for we cling to the Lord and not our dreams for the greatest joy and salvation and rest. (Psalm 16, Acts 4:12, Matthew 11:28-30)
Grieving dreams before His throne is completely valid. But as He was immeasurably good to you when He died for you (Romans 5:7-8), so also is He good to you in the death of your dreams, no matter how long-sought or precious (Romans 8:28).
He loves you even when your life doesn’t go as you dream it will.
He is better even when your dreams go unfulfilled.
He doesn’t promise you your dreams and following Him requires death (Matthew 16:24-26).
Your life’s trajectory is not ultimately dependent on you; only He can fulfill His plans for you. And only He can bring true life (1 John 5:20) and that life with Him is deeper, surer, and more everlasting than even the best of dreams (John 11:25-56).