This week, I had the privilege of being a part of some celebrations commemorating the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Also, for the first time, I participated in the The National Day of Racial Healing, and with February, aka Black History Month, right around the corner, I have been reflecting on being God’s voice in my sphere of influence.
In elementary school, I remember being taught about Dr. King and his leadership in the movement to secure human rights for Black and all poor Americans. School lessons presented him as an ambassador for nonviolence and an architect of the civil rights movement. Beyond school, I learned that because of his crusade against global imperialism, his out-spoken opposition to the Vietnam War, and his campaign for the poor, the U.S. government considered Dr. King to be the most dangerous man in America. Almost sixty years after his assassination, we are still gleaning and learning from his revolutionary vision.
Out of all that I’ve learned from his life, I am most inspired by how his speech, “Normalcy Never Again” (from August 28, 1963) was amended. We know this as the “I Have a Dream” speech. Originally, it included nothing about a dream. Though Dr. King had referenced dreams before, he was told by his advisors not to mention them in this speech. But during his oration, singer Mahalia Jackson, The Queen of Gospel, shouted to Dr. King to tell the massive assembly about the dream. Without hesitation, Dr. King launched into an improvisation, resulting in his most recognizable rendering.
I was taught much about Dr. King as a scholar, a pastor, and a revolutionary, and I was very familiar with the vision he spoke of that day:
So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . .
But when I learned that he was given dreams, the speech spoke to me in an entirely new way. I was enthralled and inspired by his prophetic voice! For me, this meant that Dr. King wasn’t laying out his personal goals or his ideals for the future of America, as I had been taught in elementary school. Instead, he was simply a conduit passing along God’s dream, God’s vision for us and to us. He was resonating God’s voice to ears that needed to hear of a future that encompassed hope and healing for a hurting and confused nation.
Every thought and feeling about our country’s struggle with all kinds of social -isms and schisms have been on full display for a while now. Honestly, I am somewhat relieved to see that the struggle is widespread, as opposed to isolated to a small corner of the country. Widespread means that at least we are wrestling altogether.
But as we do, I wonder, Can we dream again? Who is willing to be a conduit for God’s vision for humanity? While we are learning and unlearning, resisting and advancing, how many of us will simply be His voice — authentically, now, in this moment, for those who need to be inspired by a glimpse of the future? I pray that we have the capacity to reach for dreams that resonate beyond our today to inspire and guide future generations.
The thing about God’s dreams is that they don’t come from a place of fear, trepidation, and reservation. They are given by the One who knows the end from the beginning. They’re fashioned from love, assurance, and generosity, and they propel us forward into the future, fueled by hope. Because we trust the Dream Giver, we can employ faith to follow the visions He gives us.
Despite our rocky road, I believe that we are on the path of manifesting the dream relayed by Dr. King. As I have benefited from the dreams spoken before me, I must also be a voice resonating God’s vision beyond my today.
“In the last days,” God says,
“I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.”
Acts 2:17 (NIV)
May the future benefit from your God-given dreams, and may you have the courage to speak them into being.Leave a Comment