As I read over the following post, I realized the words are motivation for my present place and truth for my somewhat tattered heart. If I seem a little passionate, it's because I am. Hopefully the words in this entry will remind you of what is true no matter what hardship is at hand, and serve to push you forward with fixed eyes on the God who saves.
Last week was one of much reflection, much perception, and much pressing in for me. The week started with the commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday. If you do not already know, I was a history major in college and my nerdiness struts around like a peacock on such days as this. My two roommates can both adamantly attest to this truth.
On Sunday evening, I was nerdily excited to flip to the History Channel and see a documentary covering the life of MLK. I wish you could hear my nerd laugh impression because that was exactly what I was doing as I lucked upon the show. Kristen began watching the beginning with me until she was falling asleep and then the following day, when Jourdan arrived home, it was, to my delight, on again, and I coerced her into watching the second half with me. Both were good sports about my excitement but I'm sure they were wondering where my head gear and graphing calculator were to complete the totally nerdalicious scene.
In my defense, it's not so much that I'm some History Channel junkie and have to know every random nerdy fact about really boring stuff like the electoral college or the Monroe Doctrine. It's just that since I was young, I have always been captivated by the stories of people who incited movement, both positive and negative, and how they were able to influence others to move with them towards their goal.
Martin Luther King, Jr. fits this bill. God gave him a vision and he dedicated his life to that end. While far from perfect, his life was about bringing relief to others and I have always been intrigued by the power of his words and how God used them to bring so much hope, unity, passion, and change. There is something about words saturated in wisdom and truth that rivet the soul. King knew what it meant to let God use his voice. He knew what it meant to cast his eyes on God's heart for justice and His vision for all people, making the Civil Rights leader walk fearlessly towards God, even when his life was at stake. One of my favorite speeches that King gave was in Memphis the night prior to his assassination. Below are his closing remarks:
"Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!"
Words from the lips of a man who knew God's purpose for him, and understood that His life had to be about relentlessly moving towards that goal, and as a result, a peace that passed all understanding settled well on him. King knew the cost yet trusted God's plan, for his eyes had seen the glory of what was to come. It was almost as if he sensed his life would soon be taken from him, yet remained calmly unafraid.
As I was reminded of the dream, vision, and action of this man, I couldn't help but be moved and ask God for similar vision and movement in my own life. I think too often, our God given dreams get squelched by the fear in our minds. Sometimes we are afraid of how ludicrous it may seem, or how unconventional it could look if we really lose our lives for the sake of Christ. Other times, we don't want to sacrifice our comfort and convenience for His immeasurably more because we are fearful of taking that unknown step of faith and trusting God with the end result.
I am at a place where I must refuse to live my life cowering to fear and expectations. I cannot waste my time second guessing myself as a result of another's unbelief. King knew his call, and walked towards it unswervingly, to the point of death. And as ironic as it seems in our insulated world of health insurance, retirement funds, and vacation days, the sacrifice was and continues to be worth it. When we hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, He who promised is always faithful (Hebrews 10:23). A truth that empowers us to move fearlessly toward hardship and death knowing that we are living our lives purposefully, far surpassing our limits.
Let's be those people. Our world is aching for those of us willing to speak the dreams God places in our hearts and then be faithful to follow them. Relief and hope are found in this obedience. Inspiration to others is found in this obedience. Life is found in this obedience. Even, oddly enough, in death.
After reflecting on King and then on Tuesday experiencing history with the inauguration of Obama, my historical tank was getting full and I began to consider my part in being faithful to God's dreams for me. And without fail, just as I began the process of really pressing into the Lord, I learned some disappointing news and my heart shattered a little bit more. While my mind and heart were a complete mess for the next 24 hours, I knew in the back of my head that I would rise. Even from literally crying on my knees in the shower, I would rise. That what the enemy intended for harm, God would use for his good (Genesis 50:20).
And even now, only a few days later, I am rising. I refuse to be conquered by circumstances, rejection, deception, or fear. I refuse to miss out on the God of the universe using a broken, messed up girl like me. Honestly, that is just too good of a story to not get in on, not to mention some definite instances of random hilarity. God using the utterly foolish, Sarah Mullins (insert your name here), to be His fragrant aroma. Isn't that just like our crazy God? Taking our glaring flaws, the things that we think make us "unmarketable" and using every part of us, to be part of the relief story He is creatively writing across the earth.
In the words of Jourdan's timely song, Mend (www.jourdanburks.com), "mend my heart, and pull the thread..." so that I might chase His dreams down in a way that brings light to darkness, freedom for captives, and tenderly binds the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1).
May he give you boldness to fearlessly move. May you not be conquered by the flaming arrows of the enemy. Like King, may your eyes see the glory of the coming of the Lord. I mean, what if?
Who knows, a black man in a country scarred by slavery and inequality could become President. That is what-freaking-if.
Speak your dreams. Wait expectantly. Inspire others. Get out of the way. He will move the mountains. He just will.