One of the first Bible verses I learnt as a teenager was Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” At the time I didn’t realise how helpful it would be in countering all the worldly advice I received about my future. I was told, “Pursue your dreams!” and “Reach for the stars!” Never mind if I lacked skill or talent, because, well, “If you can dream it, you can have it.” With enough hard work, I could make all my dreams come true!

It was tempting to believe, especially when it appeared as though all others were steering their own course and achieving their ambitions. But I learnt early on that it is God who determines where we go and how our lives unfold. He is the author of my life story, not me. Sometimes that’s a hard truth to swallow. So when I find myself wrestling with God about unfulfilled dreams and His plan for my life, I try to remember a few key truths:

God is Sovereign

We are not God. Nor are we masters of our own destinies. We struggle to control how each day unfolds, let alone our whole lives! God knows the end from the beginning and He is sovereign over all creation (Isaiah 46:10; Col. 1:17). He has planned every day of our lives before one has come to pass (Psalm 139:16). And He has the right and the power to prevail upon our plans, for His good and faithful purposes (Psalm 135:6).

My life is not my own

When you become a Christian you lose your life, as you knew it. Having been purchased by Jesus’ blood, our lives no longer belong to us, they belong to Christ. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” We find entirely new life in Christ, so our dreams and desires start to change and we begin to want what He wants.

The best way to thank Jesus for His sacrifice is to give our lives back to Him, to be used according to His plan and purposes. Christians are called to a life of surrender. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say, “Follow your dreams”; He says, “Follow me”. Jesus’ command is clear: “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Jesus has been given authority over heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18). He is Lord over everything –and that includes your dreams, decisions, plans and ambitions.

Pursue Christ

We live in a world that perpetuates the lie that our greatest satisfaction is found in centring on ourselves, that pursuing our dreams will quench our thirst and give our lives meaning. But the satisfaction we long for is not found in pursuing our heart’s desires, it’s found in centring on God. Our whole purpose is to worship and glorify Him (1 Cor. 10:31). God offers Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ alone provides the satisfaction and joy we so desperately seek (John 6:35). And He is so much better than anything this world has to offer!

Though we may not have chosen many of the directions in which God has led us, we can rest assured that He is working for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28-29). Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God knows what He’s doing with our lives. Are we willing to submit to Him and allow our dreams to be transformed into His?