Many years ago when I was a college student, I was at an event with a couple thousand people.

I was minding my own business when a good friend of mine, who I hadn’t seen in a while, suddenly stopped me.

I remember his piercing words like it was yesterday: “Martin, what happened to you? You are a shell of who you used to be.” Then he casually walked away.

Don’t Settle for Surviving: 3 Steps to Start Dreaming Again 4
Some say Martin’s friend is still walking to this day.

Although I was tempted to get angry at him, those truthful words sunk too deep. He was my friend, and he was right. This simple statement was the beginning of God pushing me to start dreaming again.

I was going through a difficult time. Maybe you can relate. A girl I was dating and really liked broke up with me. Soon after that, I was playing basketball on my birthday, and I landed awkwardly tearing the ligaments in my ankle.

Around the same time, one of my best friends in college suddenly decided he didn’t want a relationship with God anymore and didn’t want to be friends either. This was both shocking and hurtful.

Because I was not honest about all I was feeling, I began to settle into bitterness and silence.

And to make it all worse, I was homesick. My family was on a different continent, and I was too proud to admit to anyone that I really missed them.  

Because I was not honest about all I was feeling, I began to settle into bitterness and silence. Basically, I started throwing a silent pity party. Thankfully, God and friends helped me get out of it.

Moses experienced exponentially more pain than my short-lived experiences, but I believe the challenges in his life also caused him to settle. He eventually allowed God to help him get through his discouragement and dream again.

In this study, we will be learning lessons from some of Moses’ experiences. 

God has a dream for each of us

The Lord made his people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes, [25] whose hearts he turned to hate his people, to conspire against his servants. [26] He sent Moses his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen. [27] They performed his signs among them…

Psalm 105:24-27 NIV

Just like God chose Moses and his brother Aaron to lead the Israelites out of crisis in Egypt, he chose you for a specific purpose. He has a specific dream for you to fulfill.

It builds my faith and gives me the courage to keep moving forward when I remember the intricate details of how God has been involved in my life.

When my mother was pregnant, my father suggested that she give birth to me in New York. Although she was initially opposed to the idea, she eventually agreed and flew from Togo (West Africa) to New York.

God has a specific dream for you to fulfill.

Seventeen years later, I was back in New York as a student, and a total stranger started talking to me on the basketball courts. That interaction changed the course of my life forever, as he took a genuine interest in me, became my friend and taught me about God through personal Bible studies.

Without a doubt, I believe God had a dream about who I was meant to be and influenced my parents’ decision to give birth to me in New York.

Just like I have my story, you have your story. Thinking about the ways God has been intimately involved in your life can help build your faith and encourage you to believe he has good dreams for you.

Reflection questions

  • Do you believe God has a dream for your life? If not, why not?
  • How do you think God has been intimately involved in your life? What are some ways he has guided you to get to know him better?

Achieving the dream without God leads to failure 

“When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian.

25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. 26 The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’

Acts 7:23-26 NIV

Moses was adopted, and as he grew older, he began to yearn to help his own people who were suffering.

Although his feelings were valid, he went about helping his people guided by his own ideas and emotions. In his anger, he killed an Egyptian and word got out. I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt a little hurt, thinking to himself, “I was just trying to help.”

His desire was right, but he went about it the wrong way; he acted without God’s help and guidance. Moses’ dream to help his people initially failed, but with God, his failure wasn’t fatal. God continued to work in his life. 

Reflection questions

  • Do you remember a time in your life when you had the right desire but went about it the wrong way?
  • How did you respond when things didn’t work out well?
  • Did you keep trying or did you quit? 

Failure and fear make us settle for surviving

“But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28 Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.

30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to get a closer look, he heard the Lord say: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.

Acts 7:27-32 NIV

You must understand that Moses was set up for success by the world’s standards.

He was adopted by the daughter of the Pharaoh. He would have had access to the best education, the best food, and the best opportunities available. It is safe to say that he was probably not very familiar with failure. But then, when he went out and tried to save the day for someone, he failed epically.

Have you ever failed epically? So badly you got disillusioned? This is what happened to Moses, and as a result, he decided that settling was enough.  

As we struggle through failure, it becomes all too easy to settle for survival. What does that look like or feel like?

Here are the four words that describe my spiritual attitude when I decide to settle:

  • Unmotivated – I am not motivated to pursue or discover God’s dream for my life. 
  • Unmoved – I no longer believe that God has a dream for my life.  
  • Uninspired – I no longer believe I can inspire others to discover God’s dream for their life.
  • Unchanged – This is what happens when I ignore the first three “un’s.”

Reflection questions

  • How can you relate to Moses?
  • How have you responded to failure?
  • Which of the “un’s” do you most relate to?

Deciding to dream again 

What does God do to inspire us to get beyond our comfort zone, see the opportunities, disregard our fear of failure and dream again?

When I read the story of Moses, I see three steps God took to help Moses stop settling for survival:

God opens our eyes to see the needs of the people around us.

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.

9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

Exodus 3:7-10 NIV

God was concerned about his people; he felt their pain and suffering. And Moses was part of the solution. God was sending him to help.

If you read the rest of the story, Moses initially resisted. He didn’t feel up to the task, and he didn’t even want to. He was afraid. He had settled, his life was comfortable, and now God was disrupting his entire life. 

Nonetheless, one of the first steps God took in helping Moses dream again was opening his eyes to why he was needed.

God surrounds us with relationships that want to dream again.

The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about all the signs he had commanded him to perform.

29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

Exodus 4:27-31 NIV

Aaron and the elders of the Israelites, the chosen people who were living through oppression, were told that God cared for them.

They could have been bitter, resentful, and hopeless, yet when Moses came and told them that God was ready to save them, they chose to believe.

Who is your “crew” that will help you dream again? They don’t need to be the strongest “warriors” or the most successful people. They need to be men and women who believe God will do what he says and act accordingly – men and women of conviction.

God develops us through the journey of fulfilling our dreams.

Now the man Moses was very humble (gentle, kind, devoid of self-righteousness), more than any man who was on the face of the earth.

Numbers 12:3 (AMP)

By this point in Moses’ life, he had settled, resisted God, stopped resisting God, decided to dream again and finally let God use his life.

Although he faced adversity and pain along the way, embracing God’s will for his life completely transformed his life and character. God considered him the most humble man during his time. And his transformation was nothing less than inspiring.

God is trying to transform each of us. We just need to have the humility to allow him to guide us on the journey. Don’t settle for anything less than God’s vision for your life.

Reflection questions

  • What are the needs around you? How do you think God is opening your eyes to the needs around you and the purpose he has for your life?
  • Who is your ‘crew’? Who has God put in your life to help you dream again?
  • How is God developing your character and heart in the things you are going through right now?
  • How do you think becoming humble could help you fulfill God’s dreams for your life?

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Martin Oji is a contributor to Deep Spirituality. He works with college students and young professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Don’t Settle for Surviving: 3 Steps to Start Dreaming Again 8

Martin Oji is a contributor to Deep Spirituality. He works with college students and young professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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