January 15 was Martin Luther King Day. Thinking minds and mindful hearts turn to Memphis, Tennessee to remember the tragic event that occurred there 50 years ago on April 4, 1968. A heroic man, one of our nation’s greatest peacemakers, was snatched out of this world by a sniper’s bullet. Many people will memorialize him this entire year, since it’s the 50thanniversary, and rightly so, for he still has much to teach us.
I would not try to summarize his life and impact—it is still happening. But in honor of him and all we still need to learn from him, his inspirational and sacrificial leadership, and his death, I’d like to share three of my favorite quotes.
“I have a dream . . .”
Dr. King understood and exemplified what dreams are to be. They are to be passionate propellers that lift us and drive us into meaningful labor, struggle, and sacrifice. They are the stuff that makes any sacrifice possible and worth it—if it makes progress toward a dream that is big enough to demand my life. No one can have a fulfilling life and lasting legacy without a dream that is bigger than himself, big enough to require cooperation and teamwork, diligence and dedication to last a lifetime. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that life-changing dreams are fluffy stuff, however. They are costly, and you may have moments when you feel like it’s a nightmare instead of a dream. Struggle, sacrifice, and suffering put legs on dreams.And another thing—God dreams are never just for you. The dream is something that is unselfish and is giving to others. Have you noticed when we start the new year, many of us have dreams and follow them up with resolutions? Have you noticed that most of those dreams are about ourselves—paying off MY debt, losing MY weight, etc.? Nothing wrong with improving ourselves, but the dreams worth having, the ones God really gets behind, are the ones that go beyond ourselves to make life better for others.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Once again, it is not light and fluffy love, the thing that sells Valentine cards on February 14, many to people who won’t even be close to the target of their “love” in another year. The love that drives out hate is costly. It is a decision of the will, not a feeling of the heart. It is love that keeps behaving in love, even when there is no response or the response is hateful. Love that is THIS powerful decides and acts without guarantee, without notice, without fanfare. It is a daily, challenging choice.
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
Prayer is a wonderful thing, a wonderful resource. But truthfully, sometimes it is a cop-out. We piously say, “I’ll pray about that” when prayer is just a detour or a delay from doing what is right and just, and oftentimes even a command, not a suggestion from God. If it’s right and good and just and holy and if God said it, prayer is a waste of time. Just do it.
I don’t expect that I will physically die in pursuit of a God-given dream. I’m very sure there will never be a national holiday in my honor. I doubt that my death will make any news ripples beyond the obituary my family asks for, word by word. But I am praying and living to leave a legacy that speaks of the passionate pursuit of my God-given dream, that I loved daily and consistently with a powerful and intense love that drove out darkness, and that I never delayed doing the right thing.
So help me, God.