Please join me and the High Calling book club in our weekly discussion. We are on the third chapter of Bill Strickland’s book, Make the Impossible Possible.
The deeper we get into this book, the more I realize what a special man Bill Strickland is. This week’s chapter is called A Dream is Born.
Mr. Strickland takes us back to April 4, 1968—the day Martin Luther King was shot and killed in Memphis. As he described the effects of the death of Mr. King on his African-American community, I found my heart breaking.
Some things run too deep to grasp.
Mr. Strickland was not immune to the hopelessness and despair pervasive in his and other African-American communities at that time. What amazed me about his story, however, was that he continued to use his gifts to help others—and himself—heal.
Even though he was struggling through his first years of college, he continued to tutor kids from his community in math and science.
“Helping my students do better in school felt right to me…” he says.
His efforts did not go unnoticed, and he soon gained friendships with members of the North Side Christian Ministry, “a group of urban ministers, most of them white guys, trying to do some good in places like Manchester.”
It was through this organization that Mr. Strickland obtained the first funding for his dream of an arts center.
It would be easy to say that what followed seems like a fairy tale. One check led to two; and soon Bill Strickland found himself operating his center on a $75,000 a year budget.
It would be easy to say that he lucked into that position. It would be easy to dismiss this success an illustration of the times…
But that would be ignoring too much.
Here is what I walked away with from this chapter…
He never gave up.
He had the funds, the environment, the materials, the desire to change things…
And few came…
So he went out to get them.
Bill Strickland combed the streets, the schools, even went to kids’ homes to find them.
He never gave up. He never let circumstances discourage him to the point of quitting.
How easy it would have been for him to say, “This just isn’t working,” and hang up his pottery wheel for good.
He chose to go on.
Mr. Strickland says, “…I now understood that saving other people wasn’t my primary mission at all. I couldn’t save anyone, in fact, until I saved myself, until I knew myself and knew what I wanted my life to be…”
Such insight for a twenty-one year old. He was learning to define himself in the midst of building this dream.
Strickland makes the observation, “…I had no deep, distinguished history to shape me…I knew…I’d need a firm foundation for my dreams, a clear sense of purpose and identity. If life hadn’t given me those things, I’d have to find a way to create them on my own.”
This touches me in deep and buried places.
History…roots—these are the things we build our lives upon. When these foundations are shaky at best, the future is difficult to dream. Strickland strikes a chord here when he says, “…now I knew that identity isn’t something you inherit, it’s something you must discover.”
I’m still discovering, friends. A sad thought, perhaps, at this ripe age of forty—but exciting to me.
God blesses me with a rich heritage from His lineage, but I still desire to lay down firm foundations for my children.
Thanks for coming along on this journey…