We have just stepped through the gate of the new year. The blank canvas of 2017 lies before us. What will we paint on it? What tapestry will we weave as we journey through that space of time?
Every year at this time, I am reminded of the poem written by British poet Minnie Louise Haskins
“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 in 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”.
‘The Man’ exhorts us to put our hand “in the hand of God”, but the question is ‘For what?’ Will we take God’s hand to lead Him down the path of our plans, asking Him to bless us as we go, bless us as we paint what we want on the canvas of 2017? Or-
As we pass through the ‘Gate of the Year’, will we take His hand willing for Him to lead us into the valleys, to climb the mountains on the route He has chosen for us for the building of His Kingdom? It may well be, and probably will be, that God will lead us in ways we neither expect nor like. This is the God of the Bible as was shown in Jesus’ words to Peter –
“When you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go”.
Whose picture will we be painting, God’s or ours, on that as-yet-blank canvas of time which is, as an ancient phrase quaintly puts it, ‘The year of our Lord’ 2017? For it is actually God’s year.
Then again on the bigger canvas of the journey of the church, as we reflect at the ‘Gate of the Year’, will we stretch out our hands and allow Him to lead us into the new things, and yes probably difficult things, that will bear new fruit for His kingdom. Or will we continue the now longstanding, spiritual and practical tug of war with God where we seek to drag Him to bless us on our preferred well worn, yet largely missionally-unfruitful comfortable paths of yesteryear.
Indeed it is time to reflect as to what we will paint on that blank canvas of time we call 2017, as we pass through the “The Gate of the Year”.