“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24, ESV).

When someone asks, “What’s your biggest dream?” does a picture immediately come to mind? Perhaps it’s a dream you’ve carried around since childhood, one that’s changed a few times as you’ve gotten older, or maybe you’ve never really put your finger on one but are afraid to admit it. Why? Because one thing is clear even when our dreams aren’t: Modern-day society loves dreamers.

In a time where the ever-popular “do what makes you happy” lifestyle rules the day, where does our walk with God fit in? To love something is to know it, which is why it’s more important than ever to reprioritize discipleship with Jesus, before our dreams slowly (but surely) wash His glory out of our lives.

Culture’s measure for success runs counter to a Christian’s measure for success. When the world veers off course, we stay focused. Our field of dreams is no different. If your dreams, rather than Jesus, center your identity, read on.

Following Your Dreams and Following Jesus: What’s the Difference?

Following your dreams and following Jesus are two paths that can actually look a lot alike. They both require an immense amount of dedication, sacrifice, and heart to get you to a place of ultimate fulfillment. But here’s the thing: True peace is achieved by going down the latter path, while the illusion of peace keeps you baited to the first.

Our feet are made to move decidedly in just one direction. When they are pulled in two directions, they don’t go very far. Yet, that’s how so many believers live their lives. One foot in the world of “my way,” the other in the world of “God’s way.” Is it any wonder we struggle to end up in the place God is calling us to be?

Laying down our independence is no easy feat when it’s so counterintuitive to Western ideology. As a collective, we praise people for being their true and authentic selves. Anything that subverts someone’s “truth” is often seen as an all-out assault against them and their communities. So, why then do we feel a nagging sense of emptiness when we do the things that go against God? We can’t just chalk it up to guilt, but to the fact that we were created by God. And as His creations, there is a void inside of us that only He can fill.

Denying Yourself To Discover Your Destined Self

This is, no doubt, a confusing lesson that we spend years figuring out. “Denying yourself” doesn’t mean you are no longer yourself, but rather more of the person God had in mind for you to be.

Have you tried going at it alone only to throw your hands up and say, “All right, God, you take the wheel now.” It’s OK to revere that God is smarter than you and actually knows what’s best for you. As contrary as it may seem, following ourselves is a distortion of who we really are. When we follow God, He mirrors our true selves because He knows the entirety of who we are: past, present, and future.

Heart Check: What’s More Important? 

Are you struggling to get a sense of what your heart posture is in this season? You’re not alone. Our entire lives we’ve been told to follow our hearts, but our hearts deceive us time and again. As Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) instructs, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” When we do things that break God’s heart, we can’t expect those same things to fix ours.

What a beautiful thing when your calling and your dream collide. But if following your heart doesn’t end in God’s glory, it’s time that dream be crucified. There’s no other way around it. As hard as that may seem, as a true follower of Jesus, you know you hold the power to get through all things with the Holy Spirit’s trusted help.

Before you go any further, stop and take inventory. Determine what’s more important to you by, sincerely, answering the following questions:

Are your wants part of God’s will?

Are the gifts more important than the Giver?

Are you trying to co-lead rather than follow?

Are you asking God to bless something that goes against Him?

Are you devoting yourself to something more than to Him?

Surrender your desires and willingness to God because He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly” more than you could ever think to ask (Ephesians 3:20). As Christians, we are not disillusioned that this path doesn’t come without pain. Heartbreak accompanies everything you leave behind and you must adopt a “die daily” attitude, but this path is purposeful, filled with joy, and leads to an everlasting peace that doesn’t just come and go with every achievement.

Be bold in Him, believers, so that the next time someone asks you what your dream is, you can say, “Whatever Jesus has in mind, because I’m following Him.”


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July 11, 2021