I read a story, heard a story somewhere about a missionary who went to an island. While he was at the island, he had his first Christmas, and he gathered some of his converts. He told them the Christmas story of how the wise men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and how that in America to celebrate Christmas, we exchange gifts. One of those islanders that heard that story came the next day and presented this pastor with a seashell. The pastor said, “Thank you very much.” It was a beautiful seashell — but to him, it was just a seashell.
Later that day, he showed it to some people on the island. They said, “Where did you get that from? Do you understand how rare that seashell is? That seashell can only be attained by going on a five-mile dangerous trip across to the other side of the island over volcanic rock. You’re going to cut your feet, you’re going to get hurt, and nobody can get those shells without a long walk. You need to appreciate the long walk of the gift you have received.”
So later the missionary said to the man who gave him the seashell, “I want to really thank you.” And his answer was, “It’s OK, pastor. On this island, we understand that the long walk is part of the gift.”
When I think about Dr. King and the amazing gift that he was to our nation, when I think about the ability to speak and move hearts and minds and move people, what a gift of communication! What a gift of leadership! What a gift of anointing and prophecy that he proclaimed from this pulpit.
But you really can’t appreciate the gift if you neglect the long walk.
When I think about the long walk of Dr. King, I think about how that he would pack his bags and kiss his wife goodbye and see his children and wonder and hug them and wonder if he’d ever see them again.
But the long walk was part of the gift.
When I think about how that he would march from Selma to Montgomery for five days and 54 miles. And he marched and walked through tear gas and through brutality, and through profanity and name calling, and every way that people could put him down, but it wasn’t just the gift.
It was the long walk that was part of the gift of Dr. King.
When I think about how that he probably laid in hotel rooms, feeling the weight, feeling the mantle of justice and freedom for all and how he probably tossed and turned in sleepless nights. How many of us who speak for a living have our stomachs turning Sunday morning and almost feel nauseated at times. I wonder how many times with a worldwide pulpit the pressure that was on that man, but that was part of the long walk that we honor.
The long walk was part of the gift.
When I think about that Baby that was born in Bethlehem. When I think about that unique gift, it was beautiful. It was God in skin. His name was Jesus.
But it was the long walk that was part of the gift.
For 30 years he never preached a sermon. He never healed the person. He just stood, and he lived the normal life in a blue-collar family, and he just lived normal and average so that he could identify with you and me.
And the long walk was part of the gift.
When I see that gift hanging on a cross three years later, bleeding and dying and carrying the sins of this nation, the sins of racism and hate and unforgiveness and bitterness. When I see that gift hanging on that cross, I can’t help but think of that the long walk from Gethsemane where his sweat became like drops of blood, all the way down the Via Dolorosa dragging that cross. And when the cross became so heavy that he collapsed under the weight, there was a black man, Simon of Cyrene, who picked up the cross. The first human being to ever have the blood of atonement applied to his life was a black man who carried the cross of Jesus Christ.
And I say to you in conclusion today, as we remember Dr. King and the one that he followed, the King of Kings, Jesus Christ that if you ever present a gift to this world, it won’t be your talent because people are into talent but God’s into character. It’s not enough to have a gift, you’ve got to walk the walk, you’ve got to live the life because the walk is a part of our gift.
And one day when we stand before the throne of God, and we take our crowns, and we cast our gifts at the feet, those nail-scarred feet of Jesus, the Father will not just see the gift, but he’ll see every tear. He’ll see every sorrow. He’ll see your every trial. He’ll see every heartbreak. He’ll see every time you forgave. He’ll see every time you loved like you’d never been hurt, and he’ll say, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’
We honor you, Dr. King. Thank you for the long walk and the gift.
Pastor Jentezen Franklin is the Senior Pastor of Free Chapel, a multi-campus church. Each week his television program “Kingdom Connection” is broadcast on major networks all over the world. A New York Times best-selling author, Jentezen has written nine books including his most recent, “Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt,” the groundbreaking “Fasting” and “Right People-Right Place-Right Plan.” Jentezen and his wife Cherise have been married 31 years, have five children and four grandchildren, and make their home in Gainesville, Georgia. To read more of his articles — Click Here Now.