Exploring the Deep

Passionately pursuing life, faith and adventure…

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navigating the fog

Living in the Northwest for the past six years I’ve grown accustomed to fog. It’s a normal morning greeting living in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. And I love it. Many of my friends know of my childhood fascination with fog. I loved flying because the plane would take me through the clouds – and I knew that clouds were simply fog that was in the sky. Growing up in South Dakota I daydreamed of living on the fluffy balls, but was always disappointed when it was foggy because the reality never held up to my imagination. I couldn’t sit on the fog or make fog snowballs to throw at friends.

Yet years later, when I moved to the Seattle area I was once again enamored with fog. Thankfully I had moved past wanting to live in the clouds, but was now captured by the beautiful views it created among the mountains.

However there was a quality of fog that I didn’t have much experience with until moving west – the lack of visibility it provides. In South Dakota I remember the fog lifting nearly as quickly as it fell. But it’s different in the Pacific Northwest – especially in the outskirts of Seattle where the fog settles among the mountains.

If I want to leave my house on foggy days then I’m forced to face the consequences and drive in limited visibility. Most times this isn’t a big deal. I turn on my fog lights, brake earlier and am more alert to my surroundings (what I can see of them). But there are days when the fog is thick and it’s difficult to see more than 10 feet in front of the car. Those are the times I slow way down. I don’t stop, though, because that’s what causes accidents. I keep doing the only thing I know to do – I move forward.

As with driving, sometimes life feels as if we are walking through the fog. It can be so thick we can’t see far down the path that lies ahead of us; sometimes we can only see the length of our arm. These can be scary seasons when we question which way is forward, how close we are to a ledge, if there is danger ahead, and if we are alone in the journey.

But just as with driving, we must keep moving forward. One step at a time. While we can’t see the path ahead, we can see our next step. And once we’ve taken that step we can see the following one. We must keep moving forward, doing what we know how to do.

In 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 it reads, “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.” (The Message)

It’s a scary proposition to trust so completely in God that He will not only lift the fog, but keep us safely on the path when we can’t see. Who knows, the fog may actually be a safety net for us, keeping us from seeing the big dangers that surround us! As verse 13 encourages us, what we must do is trust, hope and love. This is all we need to do during our foggy seasons. This is our moving forward one step at a time.


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Get a grip.

Get a grip. When life seems out of control and topsy-turvy, that’s what we do. When emotions begin to overshadow reality, that’s what we do. When we lose sight of our focus, that’s what we do. When we feel like we’re losing the most important things around us, that’s what we do. We take a firm grasp and wrestle to keep control. We fix our eyes on the very thing that seems to be fading away and fight to keep focus.

Does it work? Do we regain our hold? In the physical sense, oftentimes, yes. But there are times that it doesn’t. Times when holding tightly actually kills the very thing we are gripping.

About a year ago I read “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” by Ann Voskamp. Aside from the obvious challenge set out in the title, the book offered me several other personal challenges, including trusting at a deeper level.

It’s easy to trust for some things – the stove will heat when turned on, a light will shine when a switch is flipped, a chair will hold when sat upon. But other things are more difficult to trust – a stranger to keep his word, a new recipe to work out perfectly, a sunny winter day in Seattle. But what about our relationship with God – what is your level of trust?

I have an easy time trusting my family and friends to do what they promise. We have history and they’ve proven themselves in ways that I can see and recount. Although I trust God to do what He promises, I have a more difficult time. There is a catch in my natural self that second-guesses His follow-through because I can’t see, touch or smell Him. The times when prayer wasn’t answered the way I anticipated were the times when God answered a different way. Trust wasn’t broken, but it was tested…and the fault is only my own for expecting God to do things the way I planned. It’s those moments when I remember that God is in control and to get a grip.

In “One Thousand Gifts” Voskamp writes: “All these years, these angers, these hardenings, this desire to control, I had thought I had to snap the hand closed to shield joy’s fragile flame from the blasts. In a storm of struggles, I had tried to control the elements, clasp the fist tight so as to protect self and happiness. But palms curled into protective fists fill with darkness….My one wild desire to protect my joy at all costs is the exact force that kills my joy….

“The secret of joy’s flame: Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control…let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy’s fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love.”

It’s difficult to hold on to sand. The more we tighten our grip, the more it slides out from between our fingers. In order to keep it in our hands we are forced to turn our palms upward and keep them open. We must become comfortable with the balance between an open hand that can hold the sand, but that can also lose it. We must trust. It’s like our relationship with God: we must keep our hands open to receive what He is giving, but trust Him enough that if what we are holding is taken away that it is only to give us something better.

As I journey through life – professionally, relationally, spiritually – with an open hand, I find that my grasp is stronger. What do you need to release so that you can get a grip?