Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
On the previous evening he said the following in what would be his final speech:
“And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. 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. 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.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. April 3, 1968
It saddens me that some of the difficult days that Dr. King would foresee are the ones we are living in right now. How is it that we, as rational, compassionate, and spiritual beings, still judge one another based on the color of skin? It is impossible to comprehend.
Yet, even though I believe that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did see the difficult days that are causing so much pain in the present, I also think that he was able to see beyond the mountain into the promised land. The day of the Lord will bring justice and mercy. It will smooth the roughened areas of our world and fill in the pits that society can create. We have a chance to live in the light of that coming day. We can choose to change our own thinking and actions. We can choose to care for the needs of others. We can choose to stand up against oppression and injustice. We can choose to not settle for anything less that the coming of the Lord into our midst.
Most who read this will be good, kind people. But it is not enough to just be kind – we must intentionally show mercy in the world. Step outside of your comfort zone – push yourself to consider the needs of others before yourselves. Reach out and make a difference!
We have the opportunity to go to the mountaintop and look to see what is ahead. We have the responsibility to bring the promised land into being. God is calling us into the life that has been created for us – with God’s help and in fellowship with one another, we can change the world.