Faith Enough to Take the First Step

Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered in a number of maxims he spoke that have proven to be truths that we can live by. On and around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we will be hearing them again, from “I have a dream” to “The ultimate measure of a man.” I hope that hearing them will spur us to take the time to think about them for the strength and value they can bring to us.

My personal favorite of King’s memorable quotes is: “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” So many times in life we find ourselves at that first-step place. It’s a decision point and sometimes we can’t muster the courage to lift a foot, so that particular staircase is never mounted. That’s likely the greatest tragedy of most people’s lives.

King is giving us the secret to avoiding the tragedy of lost might-have-beens. Taking the first step in faith means that it’s not your own strength alone that lifts your foot. A source of divine assistance is always available to you. It’s an acknowledgment that though you cannot see the whole staircase, Someone can, and you have the right and the empowerment to borrow from that visionary assurance and begin.

The invitation for all of us is to look at where we have been hesitant to take the first step, overwhelmed by the lack of foresight and inability to know the future. Instead, we can be willing to accept that we don’t see the whole staircase and embrace the faith to begin anyway.



In a poem entitled “What I Have Learned So Far,” Mary Oliver shares this thought:

“All summations have a beginning, all effect has a story, all kindness begins with the sown seed. Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of light is the crossroads of — indolence or action. Be ignited, or be gone.”

Yet the only action indicated for a human being is sowing seeds, and those, ones that result in kindness.

I’m inclined to think that the best resolution for 2013 is to become ignited with sowing seeds of kindness.