The Gate of the year

I thought today I would write about the poem ‘The Gate of the Year’ – it is the first thing you see when you come to my blog homepage after all.

This poem (or at least, this verse of the poem!) has come to mean a lot to me over the years, but before I share why I should probably introduce the poem.

The poem was first written in 1908 by a British lady called Minnie Louise Haskins. The actual poem is titled ‘God Knows’ and the verse that I have pictured was actually written as the preamble which leads into the full poem. This is a little known fact – making this poem probably one of the best known, and yet unknown poems out there. A few years after writing the poem Minnie published a small volume of poetry called ‘The Desert’ which contained the poem ‘God Knows.’ But both the author and the poem remained relatively unknown.

It wasn’t until Christmas 1939 that the poem was catapulted into stardom, when King George VI read this verse at the end of his Christmas speech to the nation and Commonwealth. At this point, Britain had been at war with Germany for 3 months, and nobody was under the illusion that what was to come would be anything less than brutal, and indeed, tragic.

The First World War had only been 2 decades ago, and people, and the nation, were still bearing the scars. Now, faced with yet another war, where people would lose husbands, brothers and sons, the King was faced with a dilemma. What words do you speak to a nation who faces loss and great suffering? What words do you speak when you cannot guarantee that people’s loved ones will be spared, or that they themselves will be protected?

There seems to be some debate as to how the King got a hold of these words – some say his wife, the Queen Consort Elizabeth gave them to him, but the book that I take this from says that his daughter, our now Queen Elizabeth II, handed him a piece of paper with this poem. (If you haven’t read the book ‘The Servant Queen and the King she serves’ you should definitely check it out. The book is about the Queen’s personal faith and truly is inspirational. Much like the Queen herself – another one of my many hero’s.) Elizabeth would have been 13 at the time, and it is said that she handed her Father the poem thinking that it might be helpful. And it was. The King’s speech (not the one referenced in the movie of the same title – just in case you were wondering!) would turn out to be profoundly significant, strengthening hearts and giving hope to millions at such a terrible time. Here are the words that were spoken to a nation facing the uncertainties of war and the coming new year –

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 why do these words mean so much to me? Well, at some point in time, my Grandfather got a hold of these words. I like to think that perhaps he was listening to the radio broadcast when the King gave his speech, but I do not know that for certain. What I do know, is that however he first heard them, they made a lasting impact on him, so much so, that when my Mum was a little girl, these are the words that he wrote in her much cherished autograph book. These are the words that he chose to give to his daughter.

And years later, these are the words that she passed on to her daughter. The picture that I have on my home page is a picture of the card that my Mum gave to me one year. She thought that as I regularly ‘step out into the unknown’ these words, which she also holds dearly, would serve me well. To this day I keep the card on my fridge. A daily reminder that as I step out, no matter what I may face in the coming day, I need only put my hand into the hand of my Lord and King. His hand is always open, and He is always there to light the way.

And now I pass these words onto you. As my Mum suspected (she is really very wise you know) these words have served me well – words which I now cherish and hold dearly also. And I hope that they will serve you well too.

So today – as you continue to walk your path – may you put your hand into the hand of God – the only one who can truly direct our steps.

Yours In Joy


New year – new blog

Well here we are – 2019! Those of you who have good memories may have remembered that this blog existed. Those of you with unnaturally good memories may notice that it now looks completely different. Welcome to my new and improved blog! And don’t worry – if you didn’t fall into either of those 2 categories I don’t blame you whatsoever.

So it has been a long time since my last blog post. Nearly 3 years in fact. Which, putting it bluntly, is shocking. A lot has happened since then. But don’t worry – I’m not going to share in detail everything that has happened in the last 3 years! But for those of you who are interested, here is a very brief bullet point summary –

+ I did the School of Worship in April 2016

+ I went on outreach to Turkey where we had the privilege of visiting a refugee came and spending time loving on the people there, as well as the amazing opportunity to worship in the Ephesus Coliseum. There was also a terrorist attack at the airport and then a few weeks later a failed military coup….but we wont go into that! Following Turkey I spent 5 weeks walking around Manila in the Philippines making maps for the Megacities teams. It was hard work.

+ Next up was a trip home to the UK to spend Christmas with my family

+ Then things start to get a little fuzzy to be honest, but it can be summarised simply by saying that my body started to do weird things, and after many tests, an admission into hospital, and a lot of uncertainties I was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder – or FND for short. I will dedicate another post to this and share more in detail on what this means another day.

+ Despite the diagnosis, God was incredibly faithful and allowed me to go on outreach with Worship For the Nations to the Kimberley region in the north western part of Australia, which was an incredible joy. I’ll probably end up sharing more on this place one day too.

+ Following this I went home again to the UK to receive more medical treatment and spend time with my family resting. It was a real joy to be home to see the arrival of my wonderful niece, and to be there for my cousins wedding. I was also able to be there for my uni house 5 year reunion, which was a lot of fun.

+ When I came back to Perth in the October 20117 I left Worship for the Nations and rejoined Megacities. And there I am to this day! I haven’t left Australia since – instead working in the office on various different projects and learning to live life in a new way with my FND.

So there you have it! Nearly 3 years in 7 bullet points haha. But that’s not really what I wanted to share in this blog post. What I wanted to share is why I stopped blogging.

Because the truth is – I stopped being grateful. Life became hard, and things didn’t go my way, or at least, the way I had hoped or expected, and I was no longer able to see the blessings in my life. I became focussed on the things that I didn’t have rather than the things that I did. I held accusation in my heart towards God, and other people, and I became stuck in this place of seeing myself as the victim. Things that once were a joy and privilege became a chore. I became blind to the joys that surrounded me, and chose only to see the stuff that was hard. For a while.

And then somewhere along the line this changed, and rather than being stuck in the negative, life simply became ‘blah’. Everything was in shades of grey and my eyes were blind to the everyday miracles. And then I got sick, and life became a struggle, and everyday things became a battle. Somehow I became disconnected with my self, and with that, my ability, or desire to write.

Of course it wasn’t as black and white as this. Yes I had my downs, but I also had my ups, so I don’t want it to make it sound like life has been terrible these past 3 years. Because it hasn’t. I have learnt a lot, grown a lot, and been incredibly blessed, but this is my best attempt at finding a way of describing where my heart has been these past few years and the struggle/journey that I have been on. If I had to summarise it in one sentence it would probably be this – the Lord convicted me of my incredible pride, and in His mercy has taken me on a journey of teaching me what it means to walk in humility.

And really that is all I need to say to summarise the past 3 years – sometimes life is hard, but the Lord is always so incredible good.

And that is where I am now. I by no means have it all sorted. I still have my struggles, and I still have much to learn – but the Lord is faithful to continue His work in me, and I know that I can trust Him along the way.

So with that in mind – this is the theme of my new and improved blog. Jo Smith – Seeker of Truth and Rainbows Along Life’s Journey. I want to find truth in all that surrounds me, when so often the world bombards us with lies from all angles and directions. Because ultimately it is the truth that will set you free. And I want to find the promises of God, even amidst the struggles and storms of this life. Because God is good. He is joy. He is life. He is beauty. He is colours and sparkles and adventure. And He’s taking me on a journey. And my hope is that you will share that journey with me.

So here’s to 2019 and all that it has in store. Who knows where we might end up!