New Year’s Eve is a time unlike any other in the year. Oh, I don’t mean because of all the hoopla of Times Square, or the sounds of party blowers and fireworks. Goodness knows, in this house there was nary a peep of Auld Lang Syne, nor pop of the cork to celebrate at the stroke of midnight. Bob and Robbie were asleep by 8:00 PM! I, in my lonely solitude, did a little internet shopping—not for anything fun or exciting with which to comfort myself, but for support stockings of all things! Well, after all—another year older…
No, New Year’s Eve is like standing on a threshold. Looking back we are reminded of the good and bad of the old year—the joys and victories, the tests and trials, births and deaths, successes and failures, progress made, disappointments suffered, national and international calamities… It is a time, too, of introspection—have I grown over the last twelve months? Am I a better person? Where did I falter? What should I have done better?
On the other side of that threshold is the bright and shiny prospect of the New Year—looking forward to a an slate, a blank page on which will be written—what??? The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering, ‘it will be happier…’” Our hopes and dreams, however, are just that—a fragile mist of hopes and dreams. We hope the future in the coming weeks and months will be bright. We dream of accomplishing goals, enjoying certain events, finding the gold at the end of the rainbow. We gaze optimistically over the threshold through that mist to the next twelve-month leg of our life’s journey, praying it will be a happy, smooth path—yet sometimes fearing it won’t be.
Many people are fearful this New Year. It is no wonder why. The economy is unstable. We do not trust our nation’s leaders. Terrorism fills the headlines and the world seems to teeter on the verge of war. Natural disasters appear to be escalating. Trusted people fail us; personal circumstances are often shaky; as we age, health deteriorates. Despite our desire to hope and dream, we know that life is uncertain. Everything can change is a heartbeat. What lies beyond the threshold?
I saw a quote recently by an English woman named Minnie Louise Haskins that struck a chord with me. It was the first lines from a poem that she wrote in 1908 which she titled “God Knows”, but which is better known as “The Gate of the Year.” I was curious, so I looked up the poem. I think it is beautiful and would like to share it with you:
The Gate of the Year
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.
Crossing the threshold, moving forward through the gate of the year may be frightening when we try to peer through the mists and darkness of the unknown. We cannot see the path, but God who looks down from above sees the whole thing—the beginning from the end—around every twist and turn, over every hilltop, through every dark shadow and obstacle. What better thing, then, to put my hand in His and let Him lead me? Isaiah 41:13 says, “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” That is a promise to cling to!
As we embark upon the path that will take us through the year 2016, the best advice I can give for peace on the journey, come what may, comes directly from Scripture: Commit thy way unto the Lord… (Psalm 37:5a) Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5, 6) Who knows where the path will lead us? God does. Trust Him; walk hand in hand with Him, and do not fear what tomorrow—nor all the tomorrows to follow—will bring.
I don’t know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey.
I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
by Ira Stanphill