Minnie Louise Haskins, a well-known British sociologist and poet, was notably celebrated for her words written in 1908 and expanded in a book published in 1912, titled “The Desert.” In the book are the words quoted by his Majesty King George VI in his 1939 Royal Christmas broadcast to the British Empire: “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 safe than a known way.’” The words were given to the King by his 13-year-old daughter Princess Elizabeth who 14 years later would succeed him to the throne. For years, these famous words were known as “The Gate of the Year;” however, M. L. Haskins originally titled them “God Knows.”
During a time of national and international war, fueled by global fear and hopelessness, these words provided a sobering consciousness of those who suffered from World War II’s ravaging effects. They became the tangible elements of hope and faith, propelling the British empire to victory on October 31, 1940. Fast forward 81 years later: we are currently living with the same global fear and hopelessness, yet with different complications and realities. 2020 took all of us by surprise with the outbreak of COVID-19. Today over 350,000 people have died in the U.S. from this novel virus, while 20.7 million have been affected. Every facet of human interaction has been challenged and changed by COVID. We’ve witnessed the spectacle of politics, religion, and society as we collectively struggled with its presence. Still, we are not without hope. The immortal words of M.L. Haskins penetrate our circumstances with a never-failing, ever-present, always abounding truth: God knows.
Considering all of the troubles we surpassed last year, we would be prudent and wise to embrace some form of faith and hope as we navigate 2021. In transacting of our daily routine, many of us were unaware of the dangers that often lie in wait, just to catch us with our guard down, yet God knowing all things kept us with amazing grace.
While I am not a fan of making new year’s resolutions, I share the sentiment of setting the future with intentionality. Your every move, goal, and plan must be executed with a level of intent; if not, all that would have happened was another year has come, and we remained the same.
There are so many lessons about 2020 that should affect our society and worldview; lessons on how we should see race, our response to social injustice, and the caliber of leaders we elect. Looking forward should be a task of enthusiasm and intentionality as we set the course for this year.
To set the future with intentionality, we have to be intentional in our lifestyle, character, and actions; intentional in our relationships and friendships; and intentional as leaders of our communities. We must maintain our faith amid overwhelming circumstances with confidence that God knows and understands the many things we do not.
“It is good to be present in life when the great, distant peaks of history join hands to point the way of life while the wisdom of the ages explains to us its true meaning.” – Rev. Dr. Vernon Johns. Though we cannot see in the future, through dark clouds, or through the teardrops, still, by faith, we must walk on each day. Happy New Year.