Minnie Louise Haskins was a poet with a long and varied career. During her life she worked in India and the East End, both in industrial welfare and academia. She wrote books and poetry. She lived a life of service. We see this early on, in 1903, she worked for the Springfield Hall Wesleyan Methodist mission and in 1907 she went to Madras with the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society to serve in the Zenana mission to women.
To help fund this mission, she wrote a book of poetry entitled The Desert which included the poem ‘God Knows’. This poem clearly touched a chord, becoming a favourite of many people, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The poem includes these lines:
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 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.
The statement of faith and hope and trust sustained her during her missionary years, two world wars, and a life in academia in days when few women lived such a life. Minnie understood that at the core of our faith is an embracing of mystery, of the unknown. She had no idea of what missionary life would look like at home or abroad, but on she went. Nor could she have known how radically the world would change in her lifetime, but she still served and trusted. She still put her hand in the hand of God, this mysterious, wondrous, surprising God, who creates, redeems and makes all things new.
This is the God who comes to us in Jesus Christ, in the mystery and wonder and surprise of manger, cross and empty tomb. This God who asks of us only, “Take my hand, I am with you. Embrace your liberation and see what wonders there are. I will never leave you. I am with you always.”
We stand at the beginning of a new year. We do not know what will come. The world will change. We will be asked to embrace the hand of God who changes everything, but who is changeless. Our Circuit will change, so too our churches, for nothing stays the same.
Except this, the extended and extending hand of God and the gracious invitation to take it and be set free. “And remember. I am with you. Always.”
These words of Christ in Matthew 28 come in the context of the resurrection. He tells them everything has changed now. All things are new. The possibilities are now endless. Embrace your life and live your faith.
As we enter a new year, let us too reflect on Christ’s words: and remember always to reach out and hold onto the hand of God.