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On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final speech in Memphis, Tennessee before he was fatally shot the next day. In that final speech titled, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” Dr. King gave a powerful address including the use of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) to show that we are called to serve others even if it puts our own safety and protection at risk.
Now what always struck me about this final speech is how the ending seems to come from a state of mind that he knew his time was coming to an end. Here is conclusion of that speech from Dr. King:
“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!”
Those are the last words in a speech from Dr. King that we have. He shared his desire to live a long life and continue this journey to civil rights, but in his heart he admits that “I may not get there with you.” Most likely this “Promised Land” he referred to was the day when all men who are created equal would receive equal rights in our country, but he knew he might die before that happened. Part of me believes Dr. King was connecting his journey with Moses, who led the people of Israel to the Promised Land but never actually set foot into that Promised Land. He only saw it from a distance (on a “mountaintop”) before he died (Numbers 27:12-13).
Now Dr. King had his flaws like any man – he wasn’t perfect – but his vision, passion and boldness to proclaim his desire to pursue God’s will is something for all of us to emulate. His confidence in the sovereign will of God gave him peace and joy as he stated, “I’m happy, tonight.” Dr. King knew that God was in control of all things, and even if he did not live to see civil rights become a true reality in our country, he was ok with that.
Because for Dr. King, his ultimate mission statement all along was simply, “I just want to do God’s will.”
Like Dr. King, not one of us knows how many days we have left here on earth. None of us are guaranteed another moment, another day, or another year. So with the time we have let us live with that same frame of mind as Dr. King where we can wake up each day, put our feet on the floor and say “I just want to do God’s will” today! That means we will be in his Word every day. Be in prayer everyday. Serve others before ourselves everyday. Be connected to the body of Christ and seek first the Kingdom of God everyday.
Live everyday following the command of Christ to:
“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
How are you going to pursue God’s will today?