Encouragement From The Word

Standing at the gate

Part of Minnie Louise Haskins’ poem, made famous by King George VI in his address to the Commonwealth in December 1939, reads thus:

And 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 out 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.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

Here we stand at the gate of the year once again.  By God’s grace, we survived 2021.

We had higher hopes for it than were produced, in terms of the pandemic, though each of us surely had some highlight that made the year worth living.  Personally, I could make a list of things that made 2021 worth living!

That said, we are, shall we say, cautious about our entry through the gate of the year.

There’s been a cartoon floating around social media lately, showing a group of people hiding around a corner while one of them reaches with a broom handle and gently pushes open a door labelled “2022”.  It’s pretty apt; most of us are wondering what could possibly come next.  (The next letter in the Greek alphabet is pi, though they’ve skipped over a few before…if there’s a pi variant, I hope it’s blueberry.)

But seriously, many of us are crossing the threshold of the new year with caution.  But Haskins’ poem is an apt reminder for us:  we must go out into the darkness, and put our hand into the hand of God.  We are, after all, a people of faith.

Our faith is a specific faith, a faith that believes Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins, and rose from the dead to pave the way to eternal life for all believers.  But it is also a more general faith, in which simply lying down to sleep at night is an act of faith that we will rise the next day.  That is more than placing our hand in the hand of God: it is placing our entire being in the care of God.  And at that each of us is well-rehearsed.

So walk boldly into the surprise that will be 2022, knowing that for the One in whose hand we place ours, it will be no surprise at all.

because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan” (Ephesians 1.11, NLT).

Happy new year!

Encouragement From The Word returns on January 14.