God reaching out to me in unexpected ways still catches me off guard. I love that about the greatness of our God. It can be the simplest of moments when He gets my attention and changes my thought pattern, letting me know afresh that His presence is constantly there for me.
On a foggy morning about three weeks ago, God had prepared a sanctuary for me…a moment of GRACE that came in the midst of His natural creation in the Foothills of South Carolina. I peered into the moist atmosphere that permeated the campground, realizing that soon we would pack up and head home, but for now I was not in a hurry to leave. On that blurry, drizzly morning I ventured down the campsite driveway to the pathway leading to the lake. Earlier, my husband and I had awakened to the soft downpour of raindrops hitting the top of our pop-up and fellow campers one-by one readying their trailers and RV’s moving out in what seemed like a steady stream. For us, we lingered and welcomed the quiet. I chose these moments to saunter to the lake during a break in the rain. As I walked among the prevalent giant pines and oak trees, tiny droplets of moisture hit me now and then as the wind wafted sporadically through the tree tops. Nearing the lake, I realized that a heavy, dense fog hovered over the lake literally hiding the body of water.
I traipsed down the wooden steps to the fishing dock that was built just off the water’s edge far enough to give fisherman a good place to cast their lines. What caught my attention as I slowly meandered on was that I was walking into a wall of fog, actually an eerie effect but one that drew me in. The dock itself had been fuzzy in appearance from a distance but standing upon it, I felt like I was in the middle of a cloud bank. Behind me was the forest of trees; somewhere in front of me was the opposite shoreline, totally invisible to my eyes.
The heavy fog hung over the lake that tranquil, moisture-ladened morning in October. The day before the sun had flickered across the body of water sending ripples that were visible from my vantage point. Now there was nothing but a blanket of haze. It was as if I had stepped into an unknown world, but the peacefulness that surrounded me lifted my soul. Not another person or creature was around. Even the spiders that had deftly spun the webs that clung to the wooden dock had disappeared. Their intricate creations laden with tiny beads of moisture wavered gently in the breeze clinging to the fortress that held them secure.
On my left side, I detected a shadowy silhouette of trees. The longer I gazed in that direction, I began to visualize their reflections that vaguely became apparent on the water in front of them. The more I looked, the stronger the images became, amazed at how much more I was seeing the longer I kept my eyes focused on the same sight. Eventually turning to face the shoreline to my right, my view seemed more obstructed by the fog. My eyes could only take in what was about twenty feet from the dock. The remains of tree branches sticking up out of the water formed a maze of arms reaching skyward–their haphazard barrier a stay-away zone for canoes or paddle boats.
As I gazed around my surroundings that morning, God’s presence became so evident, and I realized I could have missed this moment by being in a hurry to return to responsibilities back home. He had prepared this sanctuary for me, and I could sense His voice reminding me that uninterrupted moments like this should take place more often. I never have a clear picture of what each new day holds for me, nor do I actually perceive the next day or the next. I am to live in the present, not the future. Every day is a gift, but too many times I see just far enough ahead to keep myself from fully trusting God. I may truly commit to following His guiding steps throughout the day. Yet, as soon as the fog clears and the familiar shoreline clearly comes into view, I tend to fall back to my own safety net instead of allowing God to lead me straight into foggy uncharted territory ahead–a part of His plan. I so quickly forget that He knows what is best for me, and even if I steer into a roadblock or a blinding storm that I can trust Him to see me through.
At this moment, I could not see ten feet in front of me. I hated turning away from the panorama that held so much truth for me, so much reassurance. Why today was it so easy to see God’s promises in the midst of the fog–the fact that He is always faithful and trustworthy? I turned and began walking the boarded pathway back to the campground gravel drive and walked uphill to our campsite, ready to journey on. I just knew that the sun would break through the heavy mist at any moment and the fog would dissipate.
My enlightened perspective was soon to be challenged, for as my husband and I began loading the car and tearing down the camper, the heavens opened, and the gentle drizzle became droplets. Before we could get the pop-up down and locked in place in order to move out, heavy rain poured from the sky and did not let up. Drenched and dreading the plight of unpacking the wet camping gear, we headed home realizing the sun was not coming out and the fog would linger on.
Reflecting upon this venture, I have to admit that there are times when a fog has hovered over my life for more than just early morning hours. All my wishing that the sun would come out and change things did not work– the murkiness and gloom lasted for days or weeks. If I am honest, I know that the fog continues partly due to my attitude with extenuating circumstances and whether or not I am willing to allow God to break through and help dissipate the lingering haze in my life.
The fog can be the FEAR that paralyzes me from taking steps forward. My FEAR keeps me on the shoreline afraid to get on the boat that can carry me forward in a direction that I know God is wanting me to follow, but I see the many unknowns and not any clarity.
The fog can become thickened by PAIN or BURDENS I am trying to carry on my own–even the obstacles or fallen branches that I have no control over. The gravity of attempting to handle it alone proves my human weakness–that I need to ask for help.
Then the weight of PRIDE descends upon my spirit blinding me to the truth, and I become immovable in moving out of the fog due to my own vices. I fight against seeking the silhouette of God’s GRACE that becomes clearer as I seek for His help by humbling myself.
By this time, unforgiven SIN keeps me stranded or imprisoned. When the fog becomes a crutch, or an excuse or even the belief that I am the victim, the harder it is for the Son to break through even though He desires a repentant heart and is always waiting with outstretched arms to carry me out of the fog. But the choice is mine.
The Good News for all of us is that God wants to dissipate the fog from our lives. He wants to shine light into our gloom and bring understanding into our confusion. Yes, there will always be trials that can hijack our efforts or roadblocks that sabotage our plans, but there is God who loves us unconditionally and knows our ways better than we ourselves. We can be strong through the GRACE that God gives us in Christ Jesus, but that means trusting completely in Christ and His power–not trying to live for Christ in our own strength.
When we can’t see the way or seem to hear God’s voice, and when we lack courage or need strength to overcome, God’s love knows no bounds. Not always is a clear fog-free path ahead the one that is best. “The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them.” Hosea 14:9 The fog-ladened morning still lingers in my memory; it reminds me God desires that I experience His GRACE each day as I trust the path He sets out for me. The choice is mine, the choice is yours–to follow His Way or try to go it alone.
What about you? Do the foggy mornings in your life linger, or are you able to move forward in spite of unclarity and unknown obstacles? Or is it easier to wait for the fog to clear and miss out on what God’s pathway held?