by Dale Reeves
This past week early one morning I headed down to a spot in Price Hill that overlooks the city of Cincinnati and the Ohio River. Our video production team was going to film our lead pastor, Trevor DeVage, on the campus of what used to be known as Cincinnati Christian University. We chose this site because the message in our current “Jesus Walks” teaching series for this Sunday deals with the transfiguration of Jesus that took place on a high mountain overlooking Israel.
As I was heading down the interstate, Matt James called to tell me which entrance I needed to take to get to the campus, since several entrances were barricaded. Then, he mentioned, “And it’s really foggy up here. . . . It would be cool if the fog lifted, and we could see the city below as Trevor preaches.”
Well, guess what? We were done filming on site early enough that the fog never lifted by the time we left. You’ll just have to take my word for it. The city really was below the place where Trevor was preaching, even though we never saw it from the hill that day. But as I descended the hill and approached downtown Cincinnati on my way home, parts of the city started to come into view. The closer I got to downtown the more detail I could see.
Have you ever experienced one of those seasons in your life? You knew reality was out there, but you couldn’t really see it because you felt like you were just walking around in a fog. You were waiting for that moment when the fog in your life would burn off and things would seem a little clearer and a little brighter. I met with a man last week who expressed that very thing. He said that everything that had recently happened to him just felt like it was all in a fog. His memory of events was sketchy, and he said, “I think sometimes our brain does that to protect ourselves.”
I’ve had a few times in my life when I experienced something similar. While walking through a trial, things just seemed to be blurry. I was putting one foot in front of another, believing that God had me in some sort of a protective bubble. Even though things didn’t seem all that clear to me, I knew that God had my best interests at heart though at the time I didn’t understand what the ultimate outcome would be. Faith can be like that. When we think we know what’s going on, but really we have no idea what God is up to, it takes faith to lean into him and walk in the fog.
Environmental scientist, Deanna Conners, explains on earthsky.org:
“Want your horror movie to seem creepy? Roll in the fog. And when you see the ghostly fog swirling around the tombstones, remind yourself: This spooky stuff is a natural weather phenomenon that happens when cooling temperatures cause water molecules in the air to slow down and condense. The condensed water then forms numerous tiny water droplets that remain suspended in the air for a period of time, and this is what we call fog. Being in fog is like walking through a cloud.”
Just as fog is used in movies to create an atmosphere of suspense, God can use it to create an expectation of what he wants to do in our lives that we can’t see at the moment.
Unexpected, but Magical
A few years ago, my wife and I traveled to Whitesburg, Kentucky, to attend the wedding of my wife’s niece Alex to her prince charming Deron. Alex had grown up in the hills of Kentucky, so she wanted to have her marriage ceremony outside at the top of Pine Mountain. It would be a beautiful spot for a very picturesque wedding. But as we climbed the mountain in our car that day, the higher we ascended, the denser the fog became. When we arrived at the place where the wedding would take place we couldn’t see more than twenty feet in front of us. We all wondered how the bride and groom would feel about what was happening to their wedding day.
As it turned out, the wedding was one of the most unique weddings I have ever attended. As friends and family sat and watched Deron and Alex exchange their sacred vows before God and us, it was as if the bride and groom were all alone in their own little world—enjoying their fairy-tale wedding—with just a few close friends standing by. After the wedding, Alex would remark, “The unexpected fog was absolutely perfect. It was truly magical and really completed the mood for the day. We had buried a bottle of bourbon on the site a week and a half before our wedding day. We didn’t get rain, and we didn’t get sun—we got fog!”
Sometimes it takes an unexpected fog to put things in perspective, to simplify our lives, to see only what’s right in front of us, and really boil it down to what’s most important in our lives. What a powerful lesson for the newlyweds that day!
The Coming Reality
In several places in the New Testament (Colossians 2:16, 17; Hebrews 9:9-11), the writers point out that the Old Testament system of keeping laws and rules was just a “shadow” of the reality that was in the future—meaning Jesus. The phrase used in Hebrews 10:1 is that it was a “dim preview of the good things to come” (NLT). Jesus was the reality that was yet to come.
The apostle Paul concludes his famous “love chapter” with these words:
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love” (1 Corinthians 13:12, 13, The Message).
Can I ask you a question today: In what area of your life do you need to see the fog lifted so Jesus can reveal greater things to you and bring about some transformation in your life? Lean into the fog and hear what he is saying.