artin Luther King Jr might not have been killed in Memphis in 1968. Yes, his life was in danger ever since he got locked onto the purpose of civil rights movement. He was threatened day in and out. A bomb was thrown at his front door one day when he was away. His wife Corretta was nursing a young baby. Martin though would not stop his work. He was being driven by something greater than life.
Martin told his children:
“If one has not found a course to which he can die for, that man is not fit to live”
What a standard ML set for us who pursue purpose. Like I said earlier, Martin might not have been killed in Memphis in 1968. Few months prior to his death, Dr. King had embarked on an ambitious project. This project was one step further than the normal demonstration and agitation for freedom, justice, equality and fairness. This project involved uplifting the economic livelihoods of poor whites, blacks and Hispanics alike.
Then something happened: Sanitation workers in Memphis (most of whom were blacks) went on strike to protest the unfair working and remuneration conditions. The organizers thought of Dr. King and invited him to help them organize a nonviolent demonstration. Dr. King did not have to answer this call. His team strongly advised him against it but the man would not be moved. He had to respond.
Probably that story might not be the right one to use to admonish you towards purpose, because the ultimate result of it all is that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and died few hours later in Memphis. As I reflected on his story this Christmas, I came to realize that Dr. King’s heart was gripped by something greater than life and all he did was to respond to this with a heart of compassion.
I was able to reconnect with a longtime friend while on Holiday during the last Christmas season. I sat there listening to him as he updated me how his life has been. In all my life, I have not seen a person so faithful, so diligent, so consistent with his call. He gave me a token of what he had achieved in terms of an audio CD.
That day as I drove home, my heart was heavy, contrite, broken and moved. There are people in this world who are giants in the unseen realms. You cannot see their spiritual stature with the open naked eye, but I have come to deeply appreciate the fact that we live in two realms. There is this physical realm and there is the unseen spiritual realm. The spiritual realm is the eternal one. It is the most important, most critical and most valuable realm that we need to nurture.
This man is a giant in the faith, regardless of the many ups and downs that he was facing. As I kept meditating on the encounter I had with him and as I drove home at nearly 15Km/hr I could not shake the pangs of compassion that I had for this brother. For days that was the situation. Then it hit me: there has got to be a reason why I was gripped with compassion for him. How many people in this world have interacted with him, and how many have had this impression that I am having?
Few days later on, I realized that there is a hand of the Divine in what I was feeling. I went on social media and wrote the following:
“Mark my words, whenever your heart is gripped with compassion over someone’s situation, that’s the seed God uses to give help to the one affected. Listen intently then act in faith”
That is so true a statement. Right then and there, I realized one more method that you can use to identify your purpose on earth: it is through what tags in your heart whenever you see someone or something in need of help and you cannot rest until you have come through for them. Please also note the following:
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not have all the resources that he needed and wanted in order to make an impact when he started. Once, he was told by his close friend President Kennedy not to take his demonstration to Washington. Many times he despaired of what he could do to alter the situation at hand. Many times he got discouraged has he told us in his last address “I have been to the mountain top”. The fact that you do not have all the resources right now to help does not mean that this is not your purpose. It certainly does not mean that you should not venture.
I dare say that as you respond to the grip of compassion in your heart, you might very well have opened the door towards your purpose. Purpose is seldom downloaded at once. It always is a gradual process. This however is the clearest door to purpose because it comes from that realm of the unseen. So have an open mind as you decide to help.
I have learnt that purpose is seldom fulfilled alone. Like I said, it starts in the invisible unseen world. The spiritual orders purpose by subtly linking people, events and even the most unconnected of things to bring purpose alive. As you respond to the situation at hand, you will soon realize that there are other forces, other people, or even other favorable events that will cause the purpose to come full circle. Believe me, when it is said and done, you will know this fact: You could never have done it alone.
Dr. King started with a demonstration in Alabama protesting against segregation in buses. Then it was in restaurants. Then it was in Selma. Then New York, the Birmingham. Before you know it, he was receiving the Nobel Price for Peace. It is never something he set out to achieve. He simply responded to the compassion in his heart and did what he could then.
There is such a thing as a bait for purpose. Purpose is always revealed gradually but make no mistake: it starts from the heart. Whenever your heart is concerned and gripped about something, chances are that that is not the only thing that you will solve. Chances are that it will grow and morph into something bigger. So when your heart is filled with compassion for that street kid and you move on to help her, you might just be opening the door of greater purpose for your life.
Let me say it again, whenever there is a contrite grip of your heart over something, listen intently and move in to help if you can with what you have.