Follow your heart, they tell you. Chase your dreams. I’m all about the heart, and I have lists of dreams, but I’ve discovered that when I follow this advice, life gets messy quickly. I’m finished following after me.
Because my heart is wishy-washy and can’t be trusted.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Because my plans tend to change and fade.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)
Because my ideas don’t always match up with God’s.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)
I am an experience junkie and activity addict. A project planner and dream chaser. A doer and server. I see a shiny activity on the shelf, and I don’t want to miss out. My heart desires to say yes to every need, and my dreams are finicky. So following my heart and chasing my dreams is not the best plan for me.
I’m designed to serve, but I tend to give away energy too freely. I volunteer, make lists, and fill my calendar. Now I’m reconsidering. I’ve pushed myself hard, and am left strung out and weary. Plus, when I serve all over the place, my contributions and fulfillment are inconsistent at best. My intentions are true, but my days are so scheduled that I also miss small chances to help those placed in my path.
I get muddled when saying yes to helping. I justify over activity because the work is important. Because I believe that we are called to live lives of service. I see needs and I want to meet them. I am learning though that God doesn’t need me to swoop in with a vision and a plan, particularly when my heart is not rightly focused.
Without realizing it, or willingness to acknowledge it, I sometimes say yes to the wrong “good” things.
To fill space.
To gain attention.
To feed my hero complex.
To feel included.
To keep up.
To not miss out.
To not feel guilty.
To please people.
To please God.
To fill needs that might not be mine to fill.
Even my “good works” can be me focused. I’ve been serving, but have I followed after God’s heart, or my own?
With the hope of living an intentional life, every January I pick a word to usher in the new year. Words like abundance and prayer.
My word for 2015 is led. I want to lead a led life.
I long for Spirit ears to hear His voice above all others, mostly my own. Eyes to see what He sees, rather than what I want to see. A discerning heart, that identifies when I am saying yes to the wrong “good” things. And wisdom to base my dreams on God’s desires for me. In His kindness, He invites me to participate in His work, and He promises to make my paths straight. Those are the only paths I want to walk.
It’s not about not serving. It’s about saving my time, energy and gifts for work the Creator of me has set before me. It’s about being brave enough to lay down my own dreams, plans, and wrong motives.
I’ve had tastes of the led life, and it’s hard, but good. Saying “yes” only to the work that I’m called to is both more life giving and more fruitful. He has somebody else for the project I say no to. His leading isn’t always easy, and it’s almost always stretching, because my comfort zone isn’t protected. But He’s a much better agenda writer than I am, and His results are a sure bet.
God is narrowing my focus and freeing me to serve in the ways that I was wired for. He alone knows where He needs me most. The sweetness of it is that though it requires growth and is often uncomfortable, it’s still life giving. It’s more of an adventure than I could have dreamed up, and it just feels more right.
My heart wasn’t meant to be followed. It was meant for trusting. So may this year be one where I lived led.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)