I wonder how you are feeling at the start of this year. Maybe you feel rested, refreshed after a quiet Christmas break and ready to take on the year. Maybe you feel exhausted, overwhelmed and anxious at the prospect of what this year might bring and the challenges already upon us. We may have had times last year, more than ever before, of asking God big questions, even doubts – “where are you God, & what are you doing?” That’s understandable and natural. The Bible is filled with moments like that. There is space in our faith for questions, wrestling and honesty. Whatever you are feeling, God welcomes you, God invites you to be honest with him.
I want to share with you a poem that often gets mentioned around this time of year. You may have heard of it. It’s become known as The Gate of the Year, although it was originally called God Knows, and the popular version often shared is an extract of something much longer. I grew up with this poem, seeing it on my Mum’s bedside table for as long as I can remember. She was given it by her Sunday School teacher as she went off to college and then it’s always been by her side. I absolutely love it. It has become special to me and I have always found it such a comfort. It was written by Minnie Louise Haskins in 1908 and famously spoken by King George VI during his Christmas Day broadcast in 1939 as the nation faced the uncertainty of war. A critical time for the nation.
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.”
The start of this year feels like no other we have encountered in our lifetime. We are faced with another year of unknowns, with half empty diaries, and holding things lightly, acutely conscious of the fact that we cannot control anything. We are aware of the darkness around us. We are wearied and weighed down with the heaviness of the world. We carry our personal anxieties and fears.
As we step into this void, this liminal space, who or what are we holding onto?
Stepping out into the darkness requires trust. We can talk about trust quite easily but we can forget that trust requires action. We need to see it manifest practically in our lives. What does it actually look like to live a life of trust? How does it impact our behaviour and our mindsets? What would that look like for you right now at the start of this year? Does it involve a letting go, a stepping out, a picking up?
Stepping out into the darkness is scary. We might fall, we might get lost, we might get hurt. But when we remind ourselves of who God is, his power, authority, kingship, love, we know that he is totally trustworthy and safe, and we need not fear when we choose to walk with him.
Jeremiah 17:7 says “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
Let us not lose confidence in who God is or limit him by the nature of our circumstances. He is bigger than anything the world can throw at us. At the start of this year let’s intentionally put our hand in the hand of the One who holds all things, the One who knows all things, the One who is forever faithful, the One whose goodness never runs out. That is the best New Year resolution we will ever make.