Thursday, November 10, 2011

Watch Out for Fog Monsters

This morning I had the misfortune of driving 50 miles in dense fog.  It made the moderate fog for the other 20 miles seem like a bright sunny day!  Visibility was anywhere from 1/4 to 1/8 of a mile or less during that time, sometimes made even worse by overhead lights.  Most of this drive was in areas where deer tend to wander close or onto the road.  It was dangerous, but the Lord brought me though and I made it safely at work.  I have talked about all kinds of weather in this blog, but I do not think I wrote about fog.  I was thinking as I was driving through that there had to be some kind of message in this.  I thought of my dilemma in terms of moving or finding a job locally, but then I thought about life and general.  The Lord really impressed upon my heart a scripture, and that is what I want to speak of today. 
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV
This kind of symbolism is a little tough for us to grasp.  When this was written, mirrors were polished pieces of metal and not the glass covered silver paint that we have today.  Metal is reflective, but it also distorts the image.  Just look at a reflection in a shiny piece of metal and you will see what I am talking about.  This is not only true for our reflection, but also true for our perspective on how we see everything.  We do not see the world as God sees it or even as we will see it once we are in glory.  Fog is a great metaphor for our point of view because fog limits and distorts our vision and comes with a whole set of problems that are very comparable to our mortal finite lives on earth. 

First and foremost, fog limits our vision.  We can only see what is immediately around us.  Sometimes we can see a little bit ahead, but many times we can barely see what is right in front of us.  This is just like our time hear on earth.  We can only see the hear and now.  We can study the past and make guesses about the future, but we can only truly know what is going on right in front of us at the time it is going on.  Many times this causes us to get confused or even discouraged.  We do not understand why things are the way that they are.  We do not understand why we are under a particular kind of hardship or why someone else is being blessed in a particular way.  We do not understand sometimes why God tells us no or to wait.  Sometimes we even get angry, questioning God and His motives for our lives.  We have all been there to some extent or another at times.  Some of us are even going through a time like that now.  What we must always keep in mind is that we do not see things the way God sees things.  We do not know what is beyond our very limited point of view and so what may seem right to us, is glaringly wrong to God.  What we think might be good, God knows to be bad.  What we think to be a blessing, God knows to be an albatross around our necks.  What we think will move us forward, God knows will lead us off of a cliff.  What we must do is always realize our very limited point of view and trust that God knows best. 

In limited our vision, fog also obscured hidden dangers.  Driving this morning that danger was deer.  That danger can also be a broken down car, road debris, or a sharp and unexpected curve.  I liken these dangers to temptations we face in life.  They are spiritually deadly and lurking around every corner.  Just as it requires extreme diligence to remain safe on a foggy road so does it require extreme vigilance to successfully navigate the temptations that come at us in life.  It is when we stop being diligent that those temptations get the best of us.  It is when we entertain a sinful though rather than take it captive.  It is when we believe we are above sin that we fall.  It is those times when we are careless that we run into trouble.  Just as when you drive in fog, you do not ride the shoulder and you do not go too fast, the same can be said in our lives.  If you are where you are not supposed to be, the danger is that much greater.  When you traverse through life recklessly, the danger is, again, that much greater. 

When driving through fog, it is best to follow a leader. This morning, there were many times when the road was empty and it was just me in a cloud of white seeing only a few feet in front of my car.  Then there were times where I could not see in front of my car any better, but I could see two faint red lights of a car somewhat ahead of me.  Even though you can not see the car or anything in between you and the car, you see any possibility of danger ahead by the behavior of that car.  You also sense safety knowing that if the car just went by only a few seconds before, there are no hidden dangers awaiting you.  In life many times we want to be a leader.  Even leaders, though, need someone to follow.  Even pastors usually have other pastors they look to for guidance.  Even top leaders still follow the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.  We read how heroes in the Bible made it through their own battles and we take heart in the same faithful God that got them through will also get us through.  We also have the wisdom of those who have gone before us.  We have their insight and wisdom for the various trials we face and it would do us well to follow that wisdom. 

Driving through fog requires faith.  Sometimes you just have to have faith that your are exiting in the right place.  I had that happen this morning.  You could not see signs until you are right on top of them.  I passed the two mile sign for my exit and in about two miles, I just followed the lines as they curved off the Parkway.  I could not see that it was my exit, but I had faith that it was.  Then I had to do the same thing exiting off the exit, requiring even more exits as I had to count break-offs until I came to mine.  I drove by faith, not by sight.  That sounds like a Bible verse doesn't it?  In fact, it is.  2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that we talk by faith and not by sight.  Many times in life, we take leaps of faith.  We know we are supposed to do something, but either do not know or can not understand how it can possibly work out.  I imagine Abraham felt that way as he rose the knife over Isaac.  I know my wife feels that way after leaving her teaching job.  We do not see where things will end up, but we act in faith that God will not lead us astray.  

Finally, artificial light makes the fog much worse.  I hated those times this morning near exits where there were overhead street lights.  They made the fog so much worse to where I could barely see the front of my car let alone past it.  This is like the artificial light of the world trying to make sense out of what God is doing.  Many times people who are not in Christ will question our decisions or even our faith.  If we begin to take their ungodly wisdom, we will only get more confused.  Worldly wisdom can not explain the things of God, it can only confuse it even more than it already is.  Please do not try to use the world's wisdom to try and understand what God is trying to do in your life.  It will only lead to confusion and even more danger of going astray.  What ultimately gets rid of fog is sunlight.  The sun comes in and burns the fog away.  I think you see where I am going here.  Just like the sunlight is the only thing that can burn dense fog away, the light of the Son is the only thing that can clear up the fog that is this world.  He is the only one that can successfully get us through life on earth and lead us to our ultimate destination.  It is only by following Jesus that we can find eternal life.  It is only by following the Wisdom of God that we can find our way through a world we can not even see clearly. 

The worst fog I have ever been through was down in Virginia.  I was driving to a youth camp to meet up with my group of kids who were going to be there for the week.  I had to work so I came later.  It was dark out and it was a windy mountain road.  I did not know the road and the fog made it impossible to see anything past the front of your car.  I followed other cars through hairpin turns, I drove slower than I should have looking for my turn off, and when I finally did arrive I praised God for a safe journey.  It was one of the scariest driving experience of my life.  I had the opportunity to drive that same road on the way to a store in the next day or two on a bright and clear day.  What I saw were forests teaming with wildlife that could have encroached on the road at any time.  I saw how the road that the camp was off of was a narrow road surrounded by deep gullies.  I saw just how in the middle of nowhere my turnoff was and how easy it would have been to miss.  I saw that those hairpin turns were actually on the edges of cliffs and that I was driving over a mountain.  I saw the dangers that were laid out for me, dangers I could not even see the night before.  I then understood just how good our God is.  I saw just how protected I was during that drive.  Someday we will have that same understanding about this life.  Someday we will have all knowledge and truly understand just how much the hand of God was upon our lives.  For now, we must take it in faith.  We must trust that even though we can not see the road, even though we can not see the dangers we are being protected from, and even though we can not see where the twists and turns are going to take us, that God is in control.  Though the road may be long and scary, take heart, follow the Lord, and He will lead you home.
For we walk by faith, not by sight.  2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

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