Recently, I heard an earnest young woman assert that the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., did not hesitate to enter into the dangerous and unsafe ministries in which he engaged. Instead, she contended, he never paused in responding, “Here I am, send me.”
Respectfully, I disagree. One of the characteristics I most value when I hear the sermons and read the biographies of Dr. King is his complete humanity. He did hesitate. He did agonize over his decisions. There wasn’t a glib bone in his body. He was bearing the weight of all the racism and hatred in America. He felt it. Even his friends questioned him. He would gather with his closest advisors and they would weigh the options. Ultimately, however, King was the decision-maker.
Years ago, I bought the biography of a Great Baptist Man, but quit reading after three pages. The author’s adoration was such he believed his subject had no flaws. There was nothing I could learn by reading any farther. That saint and I had nothing in common.
Even Jesus agonized over his tough decisions. He spent forty days in the wilderness wrestling with his calling and ministry. Facing imminent death, he prayed, “Take this cup from me.”
Moses resisted his assignment, arguing with God, “But suppose they do not believe me or listen to me…?”
Even Isaiah, in the passage the young lady quoted, “Here am I, send me,” didn’t jump to his decision instantly. Instead, he hesitated, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips…” He understood the nature of taking on the role of a prophet. It wasn’t safe territory.
Fearlessness can be nothing more than foolishness. Every sane human being desires comfort and safety. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not a fool.
Courage is recognizing the challenges and doing the right thing anyway.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was a courageous prophet. I am grateful.
Marion D. Aldridge (firstname.lastname@example.org)