To call our Christmas holiday a whirlwind makes the whirlwind seem like a calm oasis of peace. Normal people usually spread out the most important events of life so there is time to savor each one. Not my family! I welcomed a new niece into the world a week and a half before I gained a new sister. Oh yeah, and we celebrated Christmas too.
John and Vangie’s sweet baby girl is safely home and gaining ounces like crazy. The newlyweds are safely back from Jamaica and preparing for a move to St Louis. And Josh and I are safely returned from Tacoma, a little worse for wear, but full of happy memories. (By the way, don’t tell him I told you, but my dear hubby debuted as a rap star at a certain rehearsal dinner. Note to self: “Gangsta’s Paradise” is best left to the gangstas.)
So we are launched into 2010. I know that we’re not the only ones who are relieved to see the end of 2009. Seeing dear friends in Tacoma reminded me all over again that mine is not the only pain that was born last year. For some 2009 means good and joy and smiles. For others it will forever mean sorrow and darkness.
I have developed this little habit over the years that has, for some reason, become quite the ritual. Every year at Christmas my mom gives me a new calendar. She picks something that will give me pleasure in the year to come. One year it was pictures of Italy where Josh and I had just spent some of the happiest days of our lives. One year it was Paris, which will always represent personal discovery and much joy to me. And last year it was Scotland, our home for many wonderful months. The picture for April was a giant double rainbow over our beloved Isle of Skye.
So, I unwrap the new calendar. I take the old one off the wall. In the new one I record the birthdays and events that I want to remember, and then, with a touch of melodrama, hang it up and put the old one away. There has been, every year, a feeling of expectation as that new calendar goes up.
This year was different. The new one went up with a battle in my heart. A battle against worry and fear. As much as I would wish it, there is no guarantee that the Lord will give me what I want this year. There is no promise that desires will be fulfilled and wounds will be healed.
But there exist greater promises that have stood the test of years. Josh preached a New Year’s sermon while we were in Tacoma. He closed with what has become one of our favorite quotes, which is now echoing in my heart these January days. These are the words of King George VI, the Christmas Eve after WWII was over.
“I said to the man at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may walk safely into the unknown.’ He said to me, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God, and it shall be to you better than the light and safer than the known.’”
I happened across your blog while trying to track down the actual quote with which you concluded this particular entry, and happened to read several of your other postings before I found this one. Thanks for sharing your heart in a way that touches your readers’ hearts and effectively points to Jesus Christ as the ultimate One.
Meanwhile, I found that the source of King George VI’s line and thought you’d appreciate its fuller context. It actually derives from a poem by M. L. Haskins which she entitled “God Knows'” but which is often referred to as “The Gate of the Year.” King George’s daughter, Elizabeth had previously given him a collection of Haskins poems including this one. And if you’ll permit me to add one slight correction, the occasion was the early days of WWII in his speech to the nation at the end of 1939 (and the subject of the recent Movie, “The King’s Speech”), when England was facing dark times ahead. Here’s the complete poem:
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.
So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.
God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.
Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.