“When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows…”
Excerpt from “Where Do We Go From Here?”
Martin Luther King Jr., 1967)
The Source of Our Encouragement
This past weekend, our nation commemorated the ministry and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. As I reflected on the many celebrations and special community projects held in our region and beyond, I found myself thinking “What is it about a person’s spirit that allows them to be a voice for hope in the midst of injustice and despair?” “What is it about a person who responds with love to hatred, bias and isms?” And then I came across this amazing quote. It serves as a humble reminder of who we are called to be – because of whose we are.
It is clear to me that Dr. King’s identity as a child of God – created in the image of God – provided him with that indefatigable spirit of “possibility” in the midst of the “impossibility”. It is clear to me that his understanding of the resurrection enabled and empowered him to shout out “life” in the midst of “death.” In many ways I was unaware of the harsh reality of our nation in the sixties, although I remember the black and white images on the television that would captivate me. I remember the images of water and dogs, of people marching-arms linked together. I remember the death of one who caused many in our nation to cry. Years later as I became a young adult, I would realize that many of us stand where we do because of the faith of those, who like Dr. King, believed that all humanity must be treated as creatures created in the image of the Creator. His actions, his commitment were birthed out of his profound Christian faith.
So much has clearly changed since the march on Selma some fifty years ago – the truth is I’m not sure that I would be writing you today had it not been for the cloud of witness that paved the way, building up a foundation for making possible the impossible – both within and outside the church. But even as much as things have changed, you and I know there is still much more that needs to change. The images around us are graphic – as violence continues to haunt the fabric of our society. Race, religious intolerance, isms of all kinds and economic injustice, hunger, homelessness and disease continue to plague the world and our nation in new and subtle ways. This is however the world to which we have been called to serve – to be light; to reflect hope; to cry resurrection. There are moments of exhaustion and discouragement when I must confess I find myself asking “Really Lord?” – but then something stirs within me. That powerful Holy Spirit breathes new life into my weary human spirit – causing me to remember “who” and “whose I am.’ It is that conviction that serves to encourage me….
And so I am encouraged – not because the road before us is an easy one, but because I am not walking this journey alone – you are my companions on the journey. I am encouraged – not because I know the answer, but because you and I together can ‘call the question.’ I am encouraged – not because I am in denial of the pain along the way, but because your prayers will serve as salve on the wounds. Above all, I am encouraged because I choose to remember – “there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows.”
May that force – the God of creation continue to inspire us to be a ‘people of the impossible’ through the power of the Holy Spirit in Christ.