At the Gate of the Year: A Message for Uncertain Times

Poem is read at 3:07.

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.”

I think of these lines as December runs out. They’re from a king’s speech to his fearful people—people of one of the most powerful nations on earth in a time of great uncertainty and three long months at war.

More than eight decades have passed since King George delivered that message, but its truth is as needed as it was then. Because the times they are a-changin’. And the order rapidly fading and the roads rapidly changing isn’t all good.

It wasn’t so good then, either.

Peace In Troubled Times

Great Britain had entered the Second World War in September 1939. In the three months since, air-raid sirens had been ringing in their ears and tension was rising. Anxiety and fear over the New Year pressed into English hearts and minds.

King George VI was England’s reigning monarch in December 1939. As was the custom, the king addressed the nation on a BBC radio broadcast on a Christmas day when all was not calm and bright. He told the people of the only true source of peace in troubled times. King George concluded the message with the part of a poem introduced to him by his 13 year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth.

The king read the poem to encourage the English people that even during the dreadful war their future could be bright and secure.

That’s why I share it with you on the gate of this year. If your hand in His, you will walk by faith in him, your way will tread safely and rest secure—come what may.

Here’s the poem.

“At the Gate of the Year”

by Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957)

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.

Gate

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.

God knows. His will is best…Our fears are premature. He will provide for all time.

For all your days and times.

Our Days Are Numbered, And That’s Good News

All of our days are numbered. They were written in his book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). Priest and missionary Henry Martyn said, You are immortal until God’s purpose for you is complete. And since God loves his children with great love, this is very good news.

So I echo the king at the gate of our year, May that Almighty hand guide and uphold us all. Amen.

Now heart, be still, and rest. For he holds our hand.

For I the Lord your God hold your right hand; it is I who say to you. ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’ I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD. Your Redeemer is on the Holy One of Israel. 

Isaiah 41:13-14

My times are in your hands.

Psalm 31:15

Grind the Wheat

“I will meditate on Thy precepts.” —Psalm 119:15

Revival in 2014? The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul (Psalm 19:7).  

Blessing in 2014? Be assured: to the one who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night (Psalm 1:2).  Vigor and vim, and discernment, too?

You know it: The Word of the Lord is living and active, sharper than a double edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

These quotes below infuse fresh courage, feisty zeal, joyful resolve in my soul.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering.  I want crystal clear vision to check sin that clings, that entangles as I follow hard after Him.

Fresh courage take, acedia shake with these wise words:

“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .” 
– Charlies H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

“For too many of us, the hustle and bustle of electronic activity is a sad expression of a deeper acedia. We feel busy, but not with a hobby or recreation or play.  We are busy with busyness.   Rather than figure out what to do with our spare minutes and hours, we are content to swim in the shallows and pass our time with passing the time.  How many of us, growing too accustomed to the acedia of our age, feel this strange mix of busyness and lifelessness?  We are always engaged with our thumbs, but rarely engaged with our thought.  We keep downloading information, but rarely get down into the depths of our hearts.  That’s acedia– purposelessness disguised as constant commotion.” 
– Kevin DeYoung, Crazy Busy

“More than just a novel about “censorship”-as the cover usually claims- Fahrenheit 451 is a picture of how private citizens’ lack of will to reflect on anything- which can be understood as a lack of intellectual diligence-leads to censorship.  And not just censorship of reading material, but a soul-crippling censorship of thought.  Monolithic government-control has been achieved through the means of a thoroughly entertained populace.  It’s a world where TV and sports and bite-sized snippets of inconsequential news have become the center of all culture and society.  And reflection, thought, has become a pesky, bothersome thing that just gets in the way of all that.  Reflections causes only sorrow, those in charge say.  And so, for the good of society, books-which induce reflection far more than most things- are illegal.”
-Garret Johnson, “The Virtue of Dystopian Fiction,” The City, Fall 2013

“The true notion of holy evangelical truths will not live, at least not flourish, where they are divided from a holy conversation….And herein alone can we come unto the assurance, that what we know and learn is indeed the truth.  So our Saviour tells us, that ‘of any man do the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God’ (John 7:17)…And hereby will they be led continually into farther degrees of knowledge.  For the mind of man is capable of receiving continual supplies in the increase of light and knowledge whilst it is in this world, if so be they are improved unto their proper end in obedience unto God.  But without this, the mind will be quickly stuffed with notions, so that no streams can descend into it from the fountain of truth.” 
-John Owen, Works IV

“Here, then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.”
-R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture

I know a 90 year old man named Alan.  This saint follows hard-grinds the wheat– still studying to show himself approved.  Disciplined, he loves the Lord with his heart, soul, and mind.

Asked how Alan spends his time these days, his granddaughter, related, “He doesn’t go out to church as much.  But he reads the Bible all the time.  And he fasts on Tuesdays.  And prays for missionaries.”

God give me this one magnificent obsession.

Give me one pure and holy passion

Give me one magnificent obsession

Give me one glorious ambition for my life

To know and follow hard after you

To grow as your disciple in your truth

This world is empty, pale, and poor

Compared to knowing you, my Lord

Lead me on and I will run after you

-Mark Altrogge