Live the Dream
By Bill Mankin
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31, RSV)
This week we celebrate the birth of a great American, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is a modern prophet in the tradition of Moses and Amos and Hosea and Jeremiah. In the 1950’s and 1960’s he led the movement for civil rights for African Americans, a situation that ultimately cost him his life from an assassin’s bullet. He led the movement with non-violent methods, following Gandhi, and insisted that we must love our enemies, not hate them, saying “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” The civil rights movement aimed to obtain true equality and eliminate discrimination for all Americans, particularly African Americans.
The civil rights movement, with the leadership of King and others, succeeded in getting legal equality for African Americans with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Changing the hearts and minds of Americans proved to be more difficult. Many of us thought that with the passage of time, attitudes would change and social equality would come about. While there has been much progress, events of recent years have shown that that view was too optimistic. Fifty years on, we still see more poverty, higher unemployment, and poorer education among African Americans, disproportionate incarceration of blacks, unequal police treatment, and hate crimes.
I sometimes get stuck in the dismal third stanza of Longfellow’s poem
But in despair, I bowed my head;
There is no peace on earth, I said,
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will toward men.
Yesterday at New Hope Baptist Church, Dr. James Peters, a colleague of Dr. King in the civil rights struggle, reminded us of the encouraging words of Isaiah to a despairing nation. God does not faint or become weary, and those that “wait for the Lord” will soar like eagles and pursue their cause without debilitating weariness.
We who believe in equality and justice must never become weary or discouraged in their pursuit, for God is on the side of justice and mercy. As Dr. King said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
The struggle is long and the goal at times seems distant, but with Dr. King, we believe that God does not grow weary and history is on the side of right. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” (MLK)
Prayer: God who never grows weary, give us strength and resolve as we serve your cause of peace and justice. Let us never fall to despair, but renew our strength as we pursue unto reality the dream of a day when all are equal and are valued for the content of their character. In the name of the Prince of Peace, Amen.
Ministry and Mission Coach