JOSHUA D. DENTON
“I have a dream.”
Everyone has heard those words from Martin Luther King Jr. Dream. It’s another word for vision. It describes a view. The familiar expression “what you see is what you get” comes to mind.
What if Martin Luther King Jr. had not had the vision outlined in his most famous speech? “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. 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.”
The vision or dream you have restrains you from other distractions. It allows you to focus on what really matters. In life, there are incredible options to choose from, especially as a young person. Just think about it, how many times have you been asked “So what are your career goals? What is your dream job? What do you want to do after you graduate? What do you want to do with your life?” Questions like this often become annoying and frustrating because we sometimes have difficulty answering them for ourselves, let alone articulate a clear answer to friends and family. Having the proper view of where God has called you to be right now is key. It’s not just what you see, but how you see it.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said it aptly, “No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.” This quote from this famous civil rights leader remind us to refuse to have a circumstantial view. This is how we typically see ourselves – according to our circumstances – but doing so dangerously limits us. Consider King’s life. He could have let his ethnicity limit him or discourage him from pursuing his dream of racial equality for all. We could let our genetic makeup or our age hold us back from following our dreams or pursuing what God has called us to. Our future then becomes a slave of our past.
In contrast to a circumstantial view, embrace a providential view. This is viewing ourselves as God sees us, and is amazingly empowering. It affects how we face challenges and determines whether we emerge as a victim of our circumstances or as victor over our circumstances. Destiny in disguise often comes in the form of a problem.
Dr. King noted that “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” Not only should we leverage difficulties we encounter to our advantage, but after experiencing defeat or setbacks we are better equipped to be successful the next time around. Defeat the first time around should not discourage us either. “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Extremely wise words from D. King. We can also be in a better position to encourage others who go through similar hardships or who face similar challenges.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man who stepped out of his circumstantial view and into a providential view. His goal wasn’t to make a name for himself or to one day have a Federal holiday in his honor. Those things were outcomes of his persistence in pursuing his God-given dream. Overcoming the obstacles that he faces certainly wasn’t easy or fun. However, today we celebrate his legacy because of the incredible way he uses the tumultuous circumstances to his advantage.
As D. King detailed, “On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And Vanity comes along and asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”
Is your dream self-serving or God-honoring?
My challenge to millennials today, as we honor the legacy that was Martin Luther King, Jr. I encourage you to use your God-given skills, opportunities, and yes, even your problems to rise above life’s challenges. Do hard things. You may be the next champion of a beautiful and noteworthy cause, if only you would embrace the proper perspective of yourself and your circumstances. You too, can not only have a dream, but see that dream accomplished.
Joshua Denton is a senior at Thomas Edison State College and works for the Indiana Family Institute in Indianapolis. He is also Communications Director for STAND. Follow Joshua on Twitter at @1776Josh.