Saturday, January 16, 2010


Bryan knelt by my chair and prayed for me.

We were in South Africa, August 2008, ending a two-week 'discussion' of life, ministry, and mission. An image stuck out to me from his prayer, as he prayed for, and sensed that part of my near future was going to involve God lifting some of the 'fog' from my life. And while life has only seemed to get foggier since that prayer, I find myself intrigued by that imagery and continue my pursuit of direction and clarity.

Like a lot of natural, weather-related things, fog can be a neat, beautiful, mysterious phenomenon. I woke up the other morning and headed to my car for work. I quickly went back into the house to grab my camera when I saw the icy blanket coating trees and bushes, and even signs and fences. Fog had frozen in amazing and intricate crystals that frosted everything with a prickly photogenic layer.

I encountered the flip side of the 'fog coin' last night, making it home in some of the soupiest fog that I've seen in a while. It was difficult to see the road, let alone fellow travelers. It had everyone a bit nervous, and driving a bit slower.While mysterious and intriguing, it was dangerous. And regardless of how often any of us drove that stretch of highway, the lack of visibility made everyone reevaluate their normal driving habits.

The parallels to life are obvious, or at least they are in my mind, having locked on to this idea of fog for the last year and a half. The dual reality of  the fog illustration seems ready-made to describe this earthly journey: equal parts beauty and danger, mystery and path-blinding madness. And while the beauty and mystery are worthy of being captured with mental and physical snapshots (and the occasional blog), the blindness and danger of traveling the foggy road has me longing for clarity and the stability.

Enter Mother Teresa... as told by Brennan Manning in Ruthless Trust...

Encountering a volunteer at her "Home for the Dying" in Calcutta, India, Mother Teresa asked the man what she could do for him. He was there to try and figure out how he was going to spend the rest of earthly ministry life, so he asked her to pray for clarity.

She said firmly, " No, I will not do that." 
When he asked her why, she said,
" Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of."
When [he] commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, 
she laughed and said,
" I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. 
So I will pray that you trust God."

Manning continues...
"Craving clarity, we attempt to eliminate the risk of trusting God. Fear of the unknown path stretching ahead of us destroys child-like trust in the Father's active goodness and unrestricted love."

It seems easy to see the fog as a gift when you embrace it's beauty and mystery. It's when you're worried about keeping the car on the road, or anxious about unseen and imminent obstacles that you question both the 'gift' of fog and the Giver.

Maybe I've had a the wrong focus since Bryan's prayer. I've been a lot more frustrated by the fog than blessed by the beauty and value of this season. If the fog forces me to change my 'driving habits,' maybe it's not such a bad thing.


Michelle January 30, 2010 at 7:56 PM  

Jim, thanks for sharing! I have never thought of clarity in this "light" before - feel like fog is becoming the norm myself. I was listening to Sanctus Real the other day and finally "heard" the words that I've heard many times before (from Forgiven): "When I don't think and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere, When I don’t measure up to much in this life,
Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of Christ." I think we have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep believing that God is with us no matter what. We miss you and think of you often! - Michelle Harrington

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