For all that has been –
Thanks!
To all that shall be –
Yes!

Dag Hammarskjöld

This has always seemed like a perfect quote to begin a new year, this year more than ever before! But this is a quote that is easier to post on a blog than to actually do. To thank God for all that has been, even the suffering and pain that we may have endured? To say Yes! to God for all that shall be, without any idea of what that might mean? This is the work of faith, and the work of a lifetime. It does not come easy, and can’t be done all at once. Day after day, we take up our cross in faith and in trust, and we follow the One who showed us how to live in faith, before dying to forgive us.

This quote is by Dag Hammarskjöld, a Swedish economist who became the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, but I only know him because of his book, Markings, a collection of his spiritual journal entries that was published after his death in 1961. It is truly remarkable, and I encourage you to check it out. I want to share a longer quote from this book, which goes into more depth about what it means to say “Yes!” to God. Here it is:

I don’t know Who — or what — put the question, I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone — or Something — and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.

From that moment I have known what it means ‘not to look back,’ and ‘to take no thought for the morrow.’

Led by Ariadne’s thread of my answer through the labyrinth of Life, I came to a time and place where I realized that the Way leads to a triumph which is a catastrophe, and to a catastrophe which is a triumph, that the price for committing one’s life would be reproach, and that the only elevation possible to man lies in the depths of humiliation. After that, the word ‘courage’ lost its meaning, since nothing could be taken from me.

As I continued along the Way, I learned, step by step, word by word, that behind every saying in the Gospels stands one man and one man’s experience. Also behind the prayer that the cup might pass from him and his promise to drink it. Also behind each of the words from the Cross.

Saying Yes to God offers us an existence that is meaningful, and offers a goal to our lives. And, finally, one more quote of his, on finding the right road:

Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only those who keep their eyes fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.

This, too, seems like a perfect approach to this new year. Not to test the ground before us, but to travel through this year in faith, to say Yes! to God for all that shall be, and then to roll up our sleeves and get to work serving our Lord. 

So, for all that has been, I give thanks, and for all that is to be, I say Yes! May 2021 offer us all many opportunities to live out our faith. And, as we keep our eyes on the far horizon of God’s eternal faithfulness, may the One who is Way, Truth, and Life show us the right road through this new year.

May you and I continue to learn, step by step and word by word, what it means to continue on this Way, as we give thanks to God for all that has been and say Yes! to God for all that shall be.

6 thoughts on “Quote for a New Year – Dag Hammarskjöld

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