What Else is There to Do, Dr. King?

Every year, at least once a year, I take a few minutes to re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.  I always find his words stirring, challenging, as relevant today as when he scribbled them onto the margins of a newspaper to smuggle out of the jailhouse.

In the letter, he writes of extermism, just and unjust laws, and the challenge for God's church.  In this letter, and elsewhere, he lays out wise next steps for America and the Church as our society moves toward a deeper and richer experience of freedom and brotherhood.

But that's not what caught my attention in my reading this year.

Right at the end of the letter, just before his patient and gracious closing, Dr. King says this:

Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

One of the things that made Dr. King so remarkable was his unusual responses.  I mean, Dr. King, there are many other things you could be doing while alone in a narrow jail cell: questioning God, scheming to get out, sinking into depression, daydreaming.  Write-think-pray ... what a way to respond!

I've yet to spend time in jail, but I have (and am having, in some ways) significant seasons of constriction.  How I wish my response to these seasons was "to write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers!"

How do you respond to seasons of constriction?

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