25 May 2009

Eye on the Goal

Rev. Anna Taylor-Sweringen

I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it. (Philippians 3:12-16, The Message)

These words to the Philippians put me in mind of the persistence of the SCLC in the early days of the Civil Rights movement. Ever mindful that what lay behind them were all manner of intimidation, from loss of jobs to loss of life, those early protesters and freedom riders pressed on. I watch the newsreels of their being beaten, being jailed, having fire hoses and police dogs turned on them. In awe I realize they pressed on.

They had to have a vision, a sense of purpose, larger, greater, more powerful than past, present and future suffering that enabled them to take it. They had to have a plan, a strategy, a discipline that, when engaged, kept that vision from turning into wishful thinking or fantasy, that redefined victory so there was no such thing as defeat. There also had to be an acknowledgment that victory might not come their lifetime, yet they marched and protested and endured as if it would.

I read Philippians 3:12-16 and see it in the persistence of those protesters, know it undergirds the testimonies shared by black Presbyterians like Katie Canon, Oscar McLeod, Bob Washington in the Black Legacy DVD, hear it in the closing words of Martin Luther King Jr.’s last address in Memphis:

“Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. 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 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.”

So when I get weary or disgusted, I recall Philippians 3:12-16 to memory to keep me focused, clear my vision, remind me I’m on the right track. I just have to stay on it.

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