Well, as I begin Part Four, I am reminded that the original idea was a single post, intended to share with you a particular piece of artwork we feature over at our online store, Pastor Appreciation Gifts, entitled “Begin a New Day.” As with our writing, it will never be about the art … it’s always about the words … and, just thinking about the words to this artwork brought on a series, which we hope has blessed and encouraged you. I never know, when I begin to write that first sentence, what will follow. I mean, I have it all planned out … but, God will intervene, and … “here we go …”
I am reminded that God gave me an idea from the book of Haggai, and, as I began to write … and listen … it turned into an eight-part series. It was only about “Three Words,” but God turned it into several pages, over many, many days. Looks like it will also turn into a new book in the future. I just can’t say enough, how important it is to listen to God, to put yourself into a position to be used by Him, for Him, and through Him.
As I continue this “series” on “Begin a New Day,” I remember that, about 6 months ago, I started a series on “Road Reflections,” about our travels through the South … it has been 6 months now, and I haven’t finished it yet, and, in fact, haven’t written about the “series” in what seems like months … I’m ok with that, as long as I am led by the Spirit about what I write, and when …
One of my favorite stories about President John F. Kennedy is how often he would prepare a specific speech, for a specific time, for a specific audience … and, then … between the time that he would be introduced, and the time he had made his way up to the podium … he would deliver a totally different speech … completely from memory …
I am also reminded of what I have recently researched concerning Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, in Washington, DC, on that day back in 1963. The day before (and days before), Dr. King, yes, prepared the speech that he knew could be the defining moment … and, prepared for the speech … The “I Have a Dream” segment was not part of the preparation … in fact, his closest advisor had strongly advised against using this “I Have a Dream” idea which Dr. King had already presented in speeches in other cities, prior … So, somewhere in the middle of Dr. King’s speech (the one which he was reading directly from, on the podium) … he heard the voice of legendary Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson (who had performed earlier in the program), yelling to him … yelling at him … to talk about “The Dream,” the title of a similar speech she had heard him make in those other cities … So, Dr. King set aside the remainder of his prepared speech … and, spoke, with no notes, the speech which would define his life, and his mission to the world …
I should add that, according to my research, when Dr. King began the “I Have a Dream” portion of the speech, this “closest advisor” was not pleased … I can’t repeat what he said … but, let’s just say that he was not happy with the way the speech had turned … that Dr. King had relied on his heart alone to share his deepest “dreams,” and not what was “prepared” for him to say …
The night before Dr. King gave this speech, he was going over the prepared speech with his advisors, making final preparations, in a meeting room at the hotel. Abruptly, Dr. King left the meeting, to go up to his private room. The reason? Here’s what he said: “I’m going to consult with my Lord.”
You know how many were there to hear Dr. King’s words. They had planned for, maybe … maybe … 100,000. You know that 250,000 came. I have had the honor to speak in front of large crowds, and, it seems, the larger the audience, the larger the preparation. And, I’ll admit, the less the “ad-lib.” And, the more guests are performing/speaking on a program, the more closely you are expected to “stay with the program.” I can’t even imagine standing in front of a quarter-of-a-million people, and then just completely leaving the script behind, and (as we say in education), just “winging it.”
On that hot August day in 1963, there was a world-wide television audience, including President John F. Kennedy, watching from the White House. I have read what he said, as he watched the speech. Let’s just say he was impressed. Greatly impressed. Later that day, as Dr. King and other dignitaries associated with the event were guests at the White House, here are the 4 words with which President Kennedy greeted Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King: “I have a dream.”
I am reminded of a Bible study I attended a few years ago. The Pastor was the speaker, and he began the lesson by describing the impact which a few words he heard, early in his life, had made on him. How a few words, from one speech he had listened to, had affected the way he looked at his life and purpose today, and in the future. How this one speech had affected not only him, but an entire generation of Americans. The speech was President Kennedy’s Inauguration Speech, which he had heard live, as a teenager. The words revolved around the “Ask not what this country can do for you” portion of the speech.
That was 1961. Two years later, came the “Dream” speech. It could be said that, just like Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg (I try to never miss an opportunity!), these speeches’ power and affect would only be realized later … but, they would be realized … the question is always, “How fully?”
You just never know who may be listening to what you say. Or, to what you write.
I think I just realized that I must write a “Part Five.”
I had no idea that I would “go there” with this writing, but I am glad that I did. I want to be obedient to the call. His call. I am reminded, again, that God is not interested in capability … only availability …
Jesus gave the most powerful “speeches” in history … I also think of Paul, standing before kings … I don’t read of any mention of preparation for these speeches … I only read of the time they each spent in prayer … before the speeches … This “Begin a New Day” with prayer, and hearing from God is a powerful concept … and, I’m ok with that …
I am also reminded of the power of words. Your words. My words. Words you say. Words I say. Words you write. Words I write. How much prayer goes into each? If we “Begin a New Day” the “right way,” then I like our chances for the rest of the day.
Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
The Gettysburg Address