MLK Jr. – 5 Truths (Truth 5)

Truth 5: God is pleased with us when we try, even when it doesn’t end the way we would like.

I have to be honest, this is my favorite of the truths. I have a CD set of some of Dr. King’s most influential sermons and speeches. And this truth comes from a sermon near the end of the set. But, the first time I heard it, this sermon became my favorite. And by now I must have listened to it dozens of times.

The sermon is entitled “Unfulfilled Dreams” and was delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist church on March 3, 1968, just a month before King was assassinated. And his sermon immediately gets to the point,

          “I want to preach this morning from the subject: “Unfulfilled Dreams.” My text is taken from the eighth chapter of First Kings. Sometimes it’s overlooked. It is not one of the most familiar passages in the Old Testament. But I never will forget when I first came across it. It struck me as a passage having cosmic significance because it says so much in so few words about things that we all experience in life. David, as you know, was a great king. And the one thing that was foremost in David’s mind and in his heart was to build a great temple. The building of the temple was considered to be the most significant thing facing the Hebrew people, and the king was expected to bring this into being. David had the desire; he started.

           “And then we come to that passage over in the eighth chapter of First Kings, which reads, ‘And it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord God of Israel. And the Lord said unto David my father, ‘Whereas it was in thine heart to build a house unto my name, thou didst well that it was within thine heart.’’ And that’s really what I want to talk about this morning: it is well that it was within thine heart. As if to say, ‘David, you will not be able to finish the temple. You will not be able to build it. But I just want to bless you, because it was within thine heart. Your dream will not be fulfilled. The majestic hopes that guided your days will not be carried out in terms of an actual temple coming into being that you were able to build. But I bless you, David, because it was within thine heart. You had the desire to do it; you had the intention to do it; you tried to do it; you started to do it. And I bless you for having the desire and the intention in your heart. It is well that it was within thine heart.’”

I am only 33, but I guess I am an old soul, because this greatly resonates with me. I have already come to the realization that there are so many grand schemes, so many idealistic notions, even so many plans we believe are inspired by God; that simply do not come to fruition. Whether it is because of a lack of resources or because we go from being single to married or from childless to parents or the neigh-sayers dissuade us  or our waning passion for what we once held dear or if life simply keeps going on day by day and we wake up one morning and realize we have done so little of what we had planned and dreamed.

You see, Dr. King had spent the last decade dreaming of and protesting for and speaking about a beloved community where all men would love and respect one another based simply on their being human, instead of judging them based simply on their simply being a different color. And while all seats on busses were now open to all people and lunch counters had been desegregated and anti-discrimination laws had been passed, King realized that changing ordinances was much easier than changing  a man’s heart. And in spite of all of the legal victories, America was still a very divided nation.

And not only this, but as King cried out for a peaceful war on poverty be waged here in America and for an American withdraw from Vietnam, he felt the stinging rejection of those who thought he was going too far. And for the first time in his public career, it was doubtful that  King held the support of a majority of Americans. And with the rise of a more militant black power movement and young charismatic leaders like Stokley Carmichael, it was even doubtful that he was still the most prominent leader in black America.

And it was with all of this weighing on his heart and mind that King went on in his sermon to call life “a continual story of shattered dreams.”

You might be thinking this is a strange truth for me to end with. Quite a depressing note to conclude with. But, you see, why I love this sermon and why I love this truth, is it doesn’t end with the fact that many of our greatest dreams will never be fulfilled. It doesn’t conclude with the reality that many of our best intentions to do majestic things for the Lord fall far short of what we intended. Instead, Dr. King goes on to reiterate that in the end God will bless us for the effort. God will bless us because we tried. God will bless us because He knows that in our heart we truly wanted to make that dream a reality, that deep down in our soul we truly wanted to fulfill His will for our lives. King goes on to say to his congregation,

          “And each of you this morning in some way is building some kind of temple. The struggle is always there. It gets discouraging sometimes. It gets very disenchanting sometimes. Some of us are trying to build a temple of peace. We speak out against war, we protest, but it seems that your head is going against a concrete wall. It seems to mean nothing. And so often as you set out to build the temple of peace you are left lonesome; you are left discouraged; you are left bewildered.

          “Well, that is the story of life. And the thing that makes me happy is that I can hear a voice crying through the vista of time, saying: ‘It may not come today or it may not come tomorrow, but it is well that it is within thine heart. It’s well that you are trying. You may not see it. The dream may not be fulfilled, but it’s just good that you have a desire to bring it into reality. It’s well that it’s in thine heart.’”

And when we fight the good fight, when we keep on trying in this life to do the good work the Lord calls us to, even when we fall short, the Lord accepts us because we tried. And one day all will be made right. One day for all who have bowed their knee to Jesus Christ and proclaimed Him Lord and Savior, there will be no regrets. There will be no sorrow. There will be only the eternal love and acceptance of the Lord.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

As I conclude these 5 truths, I just want to quickly review these each of them. I also want to encourage you to pass on both these truths and others that you know about this great man, so that he might be known as more to the next generation than just the “guy who gave the I Have a Dream Speech and gets us a day out of school”:

Truth 1: Our lives are not our own to do with whatever we wish. We must follow the Lord’s calling and will for our life no matter where it takes us.

Truth 2: We can lean on the Lord’s promise that He is always with us to get us through the difficult trials of life.

Truth 3: Whatever we have to forgive others for and love them in spite of, we are forgiven of much more and God’s love is much greater.

Truth 4: We must do what we know is right, even when it leaves us alone. We must seek to shape other’s views, not be shaped by the most popular view of the time.

Truth 5: God is pleased with us when we try, even when it doesn’t end the way we would like.

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