When the Fog Lifts


“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

I Corinthians 13:12 NLT

     Have you ever drove through a dense fog? It’s terrifying, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar area. Last year, my family went on our annual fall mountain trip and one day we decided to take a slight detour and drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway for a while to enjoy the views, but that journey did not go as planned. As we drove, we entered into a thick fog and couldn’t even see the road in front of us, let alone the views around us. We had to significantly reduce our speed, and follow as close as possible to the car in front of us – just to feel safe and be able to see where we were going.

Doesn’t life feel like that sometimes?

Like a dense fog has come and settled on the plan you had envisioned for your life?

I know it has for me.

It’s scary to feel so lost, so out of control, so blinded by obscurity and insecurity. You can’t see what’s in front of you, you don’t know what you’re walking into, so you just have to follow close to the One in front you. You just have to slow down, and be still, and trust that you’re being led in the right direction. You just have to wait for the fog to lift.

On our trip this year, we encountered the fog again, but this time it was different. This time we weren’t driving through it, we were at the house – which sits on top of a mountain. This time we were able to step out on the porch and look out over the fog-covered country hillside. We were able to see the fog from a different perspective, and it was beautiful. The view from the mountain gave clarity to a cloudy situation.

We all took out our cameras to capture the image – so peaceful and and serene.

It’s amazing how a simple change in perspective can completely alter the way you see and experience things. The source of our fear in the valley, the challenge we were forced to overcome, became a thing of beauty to be captured and treasured from up above.

That’s the thing about fog – it looks like mystery, but it feels like peace.

And believe it or not, the two can exist simultaneously – I see it and feel it in the person of the Holy Spirit.

He is my mysterious sense of peace.

He grows my trust by clouding my vision.

He gains by trust by leading me through obscurity and into purpose.

He whispers, just be still.

And in the stillness of the moment, I sense the stillness of His presence.

So constant, so secure.

In the Old Testament, God led the Israelites through through the wilderness by a pillar of fire in the night and a cloud in day. He made His presence visible. He made His presence known.

What is the difference between a cloud and a fog? The only difference is that fog is a cloud which has made contact with the ground, it has touched the surface of the earth.

The Holy Spirit comes to us as a fog, because He has touched this earth. His feet have walked the same ground we have walked.

When life gets foggy, we should count it as a blessing, because that means the Holy Spirit has settled in around us.

In Numbers 9:15-23 when the Israelites had set up the tabernacle in the wilderness, a cloud came and settled over it. When the cloud covered the tabernacle, the Isreaelites remained encamped, but when the cloud lifted they set out and continued their journey. Scripture says sometimes the cloud would stay only a day or two, sometimes a month, or even a year. But no matter how long it lasted, the Israelites remained obedient and didn’t set out until it lifted.

God was in control then, and He is in control now. He knows if the place we are headed to is not ready for our arrival yet. He knows if the road before us isn’t safe to travel yet. He knows we may not be prepared yet for what we will encounter along the way. So He sends a cloud, He sends a fog. He clouds our vision temporarily to keep us still, and to keep us safe. At the right time, He will lift the fog and we can press forward.

But we have to trust Him.

I’m a writer. When I start writing, I like to have the end in mind before I ever get started. Once my starting point and ending point are established, I can build out and develop everything in between. I used to do the same thing when I was younger and would go pick out a book to read at the library, I would read the first paragraph and the last paragraph in order to decide if I wanted to read that particular book or not.

But that’s not how life works. I can’t see the end, I can’t predict how the story will unfold. I am not the author of my life, and the pen is not mine to bear. It’s inevitable that you will always end up disappointed when you try to imagine the end of a story that you didn’t write. There’s always something you would have done differently, something you wished did or didn’t happen.

But what would happen if we always left the foggy situations out? What if everything was always clear and there was never any mystery? What kind of story would that tell?

Throughout Scripture, the greatest stories are those shrouded in mystery.

When Noah was instructed to build an ark because of an impending flood, rain had not yet fallen from from sky (Genesis 2:6).

When the Isrealites were hungry in the wilderness, God provided bread from heaven, and the Isrealites called it “manna” which means “What is it?” (Exodus 16:14-15)

When Sarah heard she would be with child in her old age, she laughed at the thought (Genesis 18:11-12).

When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Mary and told her she would be with child, her response was “How can this be?” (Luke 1:34)

When Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, He was blinded for three days afterwards. And the men traveling with him simply stood there speechless as the event took place because they could hear Jesus speaking, but couldn’t see Him (Acts 9:7-9).

Imagine the fog these great leaders of our faith must have felt as they lived these stories out. Imagine the fear, the confusion, the cloudiness, and the disbelief. But imagine Noah, when that first drop of rain fell and He saw that what God had said was true, and He knew that His family would be safe because He had been obedient to God’s instruction. Imagine the peace that put His mind at ease when the ark came to rest and He saw the very first rainbow spread out across the sky as a sign of God’s promise. Imagine the Israelites, after praying and seeking God for provision, walking out and seeing the answer to their prayers on the ground before them – not at all what they expected, but exactly what they needed. Imagine the all-consuming joy of Sarah when she first held her son in her arms – the answer to a prayer she had already given up hope on ever receiving. Imagine Mary – giving birth, having never known a man. Imagine her watching Jesus grow up – holding his hand as he learned to walk, picking him when he fell down, soothing his pain we he was sick or hurting, wiping his tears when he was sad or upset… all the while knowing He would be the One to save mankind from their sins. Imagine Paul, the one who had dedicated his life to persecuting Christians and having them killed, standing up to preach for the first time and declaring the name of Jesus as the only way to be saved and made righteous. Imagine the first time he sat down to write a letter, never having been able to anticipate or imagine the lasting power and impact his words would have.

Imagine the perspective these saints of God have now – now that they’ve been raised from the fog of this earth. I imagine each time they hear someone call on the name of Jesus, or come to new life in Jesus – that they count every doubt, every fear, every earthly worry, and every earthly tear as worth it. Because Jesus is worthy.

The fogginess we’re enduring now is serving a purpose we can’t see.

This story God is writing is full of intricate details that we can’t see or understand, but one day we will. One day the fog will lift – One day it will all make perfect sense and we will see it all with perfect clarity.

Learning to Lean

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

– Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)

Lean not on your own understanding.

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to lean on things a lot. When I walk in a room to talk to someone, I lean on the doorpost. When I’m sitting at my desk at work, I lean on the armrest of my chair. When I’m driving, I either lean on the car door or lean on the center console. When I’m sitting at a table, I either lean forward on the table or lean back in my chair. Blame it on my poor posture, physical weakness, or just plain laziness – I’m not sure why I do it, but leaning just seems to come naturally to me. It’s not that I couldn’t stand up straight if I wanted to, or support my own weight if I needed to, it’s just more comfortable not to.

And it’s the same way in life.

I lean on my friends, my family, my church, my work, my talents, my hobbies, my finances, etc. I depend on these people and things to be there when I need them to be there – I depend on them to meet my needs and satisfy my desires. I look to them for comfort, and I lean on them for support. I seek their advice, their counsel, and their understanding.

I trust them, because I see them. I hear them. I feel them. I’m not Thomas, I can’t touch the holes in Jesus’ hands and side… so why should I trust Him? I can’t see His plan, so how could I understand?

When I make these kind of excuses, I am a hypocrite. Why do we condemn Thomas and label him by his faults when we ourselves doubt God’s power every day. Meanwhile, we lean on our own understanding and put our trust in weaker powers.

In the book Live Loved, Max Lucado writes,

“You take steps of trust daily, even hourly. You believe the chair will support you, so you sit your weight on it. You believe water will hydrate you, so you swallow it. You trust the work of the light switch, so you flip it. You have faith the doorknob will work, so you turn it. You regularly trust in power you cannot see to do a work you cannot accomplish. Jesus invites you to do the same with Him.”

Trust in a power you cannot see to do a work you cannot accomplish – that’s what it means to lean on Jesus.

I love the perspective of trusting Jesus in this video, please take the time to watch:


How often do we find ourselves in this same situation? We have ourselves convinced that we understand God’s plan, that we’ve trusted Him completely… But it’s our own understanding we’re leaning on. God  is calling us to bigger and better things and yet we find ourselves crippled with fear, crippled by doubt.

There is a reason Scripture tells us not to lean on our own understanding – It’s for our good. It’s meant to protect us from falling flat on our face, or flat on our back, or falling flat in whatever direction our leaning is leading us.

Our understanding is based on our thoughts, our opinions, and our views of the world and how it operates. Look at all of the leaning we see in politics – There are people who lean left, and people who lean right. There are people on the left who lean a little the right, and there are people on the right who lean a little to the left. Then there are people who lean so far one way or the other that I find myself wondering how they haven’t completely lost their balance and toppled over yet.

When we lean on our own understanding, we are leaning on the belief that our understanding is correct – absolute truth, completely trustworthy. But in the wise words of The Black Eyed Peas’ song Where is the Love… it’s our “lack of understanding leading us away from unity.”

Romans 3:11 tells us, “There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God” and Romans 11:33 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”

We can’t even begin to understand the plans of God – His ways are higher, His thoughts are  higher (Isaiah 55:8-9). Scripture tells us no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind can comprehend the things God has prepared (1 Corinthians 2:9).

So why do we trust so much in our own understanding, and so little in His? Why do we choose to lean on our lack of understanding, rather than leaning on the One who gives understanding?

Isaiah 29:16 says,

“You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?”

This world is full of division because we are all trusting in our own understanding. We are all so convinced that our plans are the best plans, and our thoughts are the best thoughts, that we close our minds to anything contradictory. The anger and hostility, the arguments and hateful words – It could all cease if we would simply learn the right way to lean.

What a world this would be if we would only learn to lean into each other rather than away from each other, if only we would learn to listen simply for the sake of listening rather than listening in order to form a rebuttal, if only we would learn to seek to understand rather than seek to be understood. I think that kind of world would look a lot more like the Kingdom of God, a lot more like the body of Christ – living and active, working and moving together. But in order for that kind of world to exist, we must be fully trusting and fully leaning on the power of God – the power that gives us the strength and ability to do a work that only He can do. We must lean to learn, and we must learn to lean.