You need to know two things about me to appreciate this story:
1. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of my heroes. I did a report on him in second grade during Black History Month and I was sold for life. Here was a man who saw the injustice that was around him and actually did something about it. He was a man of conviction, a man of faith. I did extensive research about him in high school and even reconstructed the Lincoln Memorial for my history class. When I finally climbed its steps 2005, I called my parents. You’ll never guess where I am….
2. I, along with many other Minnesotans, suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Most of the time I’m just moody or tired or glum. But sometimes it’s uglier than that. I experience a strangely awful inhuman feeling: withdrawal. It’s like losing your appetite for human interaction. You don’t want anyone around. It’s incredibly lonely and isolating. Sometimes hopelessness feels like you are trapped in the bottom of a pit. Depression is the darkness of endless night.
I was having one of those depressing moments one morning last January. I had struggled to get out of bed. After lecturing myself that, “Sleep doesn’t pay the mortgage,” I pulled on clothes, poured coffee, and headed out the door. I don’t know how you feel about your car, but my car is a sacred space for me. It's where I spend seven minutes each morning singing to God on my way to work. It's where I've prayed some of my grittiest prayers because when you're strapped in, there's nowhere else to go.
It's also been a symbol of God's faithfulness. Learning how to drive was a struggle; I was in grad school before I ever traveled on the freeway, but it's been a beautiful area of my life where I have seen improvement. I've gone places that I never thought I would go on my own. I have a picture on my dash of myself surrounded by three of my precious friends reminding me that I have people in my corner cheering me on as I journey through life but….
But there I was that morning sad and all alone. I started listening to a CD that a friend had given me. I had listened to this song several times, but at four minutes in, the singer starts telling a story quietly and I had never bothered to turn up the volume and listen. I found myself annoyed with the fact I couldn’t hear the words that morning, so I cranked up the volume. As I drove down the snowy county road I began to hear a story about Martin Luther King Jr. that ministered to my soul; bringing light to my dark places and comfort to my loneliness.
Sometimes I like to imagine that Jesus is sitting next to me in the passenger seat, even holding my hand at the stoplights if I’m having a particularly rough day. That morning it was like a friend was along for the ride and just wanted to turn up the car stereo so I could be reminded of something true. I listen to this song often; especially when I need courage on the way to where I’m going. I unashamedly insert my own name into the lyrics and sing it out loud.
You can listen to it here. It is called Never Alone Martin (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) by Jason Upton from his 2007 album Beautiful People. The whole song is good, but the story starts at the 4 minute mark if you want to skip ahead. I hope you enjoy.