We often hear the phrases, “Follow your heart,” or “Follow your dream.” These seem like benign words of encouragement along life’s journey. But in our desire to speak positive things into a friend’s life, we may actually be providing them with some lousy advice.
In the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies the lead character, Captain Jack Sparrow has in his possession, a compass. But this is no ordinary compass. This compass does not point true north. Instead, it points in the direction that will take him toward whatever his heart desires. His compass reflects his heart. Because of this, his world is constantly in chaos, and the people around him are constantly in turmoil.
This is a great picture of humanity. We are eager to follow our heart on a great adventure, even though we don’t know where it will take us. You only live once, right? So go after whatever it is that makes you happy, right? The only regrets you will have are those times when you didn’t take a chance and do something totally crazy, right? These are Humanistic ideals. Following your heart places you at the center of your decisions. Following your dreams means putting trust in something that you don’t understand. These have becoming exciting ideas, but are they healthy?
Well, the Bible says that following your heart is a bad idea, and following your dreams will land you in a nightmare. I know… I hate to burst your pop culture bubble. But I would rather deal in reality than fantasy. Here’s the reality… “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Yep. Your heart will steer you wrong most of the time. It is deceitful. That means it is not trustworthy. It will trick you into thinking that it is leading you in the right direction. You can’t fix your heart to tell you the right thing, because you didn’t design or create it. You just can’t trust your heart to tell you the right thing, and you can’t fix it to make it honest.
But your friends keep telling you to follow your heart, and chase after your dreams. They want the best for you, right? Can you trust your friends? Well, earlier in the chapter, Jeremiah wrote, “The man who trusts in mankind, who makes human flesh his strength and turns his heart from the Lord is cursed… he cannot see when good comes, but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives.” (Jer. 17:5-6) So yeah… when your friends tell you to follow your heart, they aren’t anymore trustworthy than your heart. I’ve seen many people floundering in life because they listened to friends give them bad life advice.
So where does that leave you? How are you to know the right direction in life if you can’t trust your own heart, and you can’t put your trust in your friends? Well, between those two sections of writing, the prophet Jeremiah writes this… “The man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is indeed is the Lord, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.” (Jer. 17:7-9)
So this picture is not of a ship captain turning his sails into every wind to find something he thinks will please him. This is a picture of a tree. Doesn’t sound like much of an adventure, does it? Well, do you want adventure in your life, or do you want fruit? Because fruit is more of a blessing to others than is adventure. You weren’t put here to see the world or change the world. And you certainly weren’t put here to fill your life up with everything the world has to offer. You were put here to faithfully grow as a person, and produce fruit. You aren’t so much a ship, but rather a tree. God designed and created you to fulfill His purpose in your life. So mute your own heart, mute your friends, and crank up the volume on God’s voice.
He will change your heart. He will give you new dreams. And you can trust Him. He may lead you to some dangerous places, but He will not leave you abandoned like your friends will and your heart will. And in the end, your faithfulness will pay off in a life lived well, and you will leave something beautiful for others.
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.