New years are traditionally times of anticipation. The page is blank. The book unwritten. Anything is possible. There are 365 days stretched out in front of us, unmarred, full of hope and promise.

For leaders, even more so. The future we envisage stretches beyond our own lives and into all the exciting opportunities for growth and transformation of our entire arena of ministry. When a visionary gives time to hearing from God and ruminating over what the new year might bring, there’s so much expectation and optimism in her thinking.

And then … the year unfolds and brings more of a mixed bag than we had in mind.

Which is why it’s imperative that we don’t do this alone.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Matthew 7:7-8

Getting vision from God for the new year is one thing. The juggle of how it comes together – or comes apart at the seams – through the year, is something altogether different. Receiving vision from God is not a one-off encounter. It’s ongoing. It’s about dependence on the God who knew when He gave the vision how it would pan out. He is aware of how accidents and incidents play their part in the unknown future. He knows in advance when discouragement and disillusionment will rise to shake our shining vision of what could be.

And He knows how to help us get through it. The unknown is not unknown to Him. We navigate the unknown by ‘keeping on asking’, ‘keeping on seeking’, and ‘keeping on knocking’. As we do that, maintaining the awareness that the God who calls us is faithful and He will bring to pass what He calls us to (1 Thessalonians 5:24) we will come out the other side. Maybe not unscathed, possibly somewhat bloodied, but with the fullness of our call still intact. And we will have grown and matured as leaders through our battles. We do not journey through the unknown alone.

I love this poem written in 1908 and read by King George VI in his 1939 Christmas broadcast on the eve of World War II. It is said to have been brought to his attention by his daughter, the Princess Elizabeth.

God Knows
Minnie Lou 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 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.

Each new year carries depths and heights we cannot guess at, and each of us will be ecstatic at some happenings and tried and tested by others. 2024 is no exception. We will often wonder if we have lost our way, or whether it’s all worth it. We will be exhilarated and exhausted by turns through the year.

Minnie Lou Haskins is a wise counsellor for all of us, especially those who lead others. She inspires courage and faith to tread confidently into the unknown, knowing that the faithful God who calls us is walking with us, holding our hand.

We don’t know what the future holds, but we know the One who holds the future. Step out.