The recent release of The King’s Speech, a movie starring Colin Firth, has highlighted the fact that King George VI was generally not viewed as a compelling speaker. The movie places his speech impediment in the spotlight, and has been an encouragement many who deal with speech impediments of various sorts.
The one speech King George is remembered for is his Christmas Day, 1939, address to the Commonwealth (which can be heard here). This was a critical speech for the King, as it came at the dawn of the Second World War. In it, he quotes a poem which was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, written in 1908 by Minnie Louise Haskins, an English economist who enjoyed a writing hobby. It goes like this:
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied,
“Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!”
So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.
So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low,
God hideth his intention.
We stand, today, at the gate of the year, quite literally: it is December 31, and tomorrow brings with it a new digit in the year. And, despite what may already be written on our calendars and punched into our smartphone day planners, it is very much “into the unknown” that we tread.
Were we able to predict, let alone to know, what would happen over the course of the coming year, we would never have to work a day, because we’d make all the money we’d want as a side show act. No, we are not omniscient; we don’t know everything. But we who follow Jesus serve the God who is omniscient, who does know everything. And the poet’s counsel is true: “Go into the darkness” (for that is what the unknown is), “and put your hand into the hand of God.” Why? “That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!”
There is much more that we don’t know about 2011 than what we do know. But of this much we can be sure: God has the whole year figured out. And with our hand grasped by his, we will be able to traverse the year, confident that we walk in his way, according to his plan.
Is this easy? No; it’s an act of faith. But that’s what following Jesus is all about: it’s an act of faith. And when we all put our hand into the hand of God, and walk in his way, it becomes more enriching as we live by faith in community.
May the church – your faith community – be a big part of 2011 for you as you stand at the gate of the year. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation” (Hebrews 11.1-2, NLT).
Happy New Year! May God give you joy as you step through the gate into 2011.