I lay down to sleep at night.
And I don’t know what awaits me.
Will it be restful sleep?
Or will it be minutes ticking away that melt into the next hour?
I wake up in the morning.
Is it going to a day filled with energy — to start new beginnings and break off old ways?
Or will the day be one lived in obedience — to faithfully get up and surrender to whatever the next hour brings me?
I don’t know what each day will bring.
This is what the journey of faith looks like when you’re traveling through the thick of it.
These are the days of walking through the fog of everyday life trials —
when change isn’t coming any faster than you’d like it,
when the challenge that’s pressing in on you intensifies.
You try to ignore it. Try to make yourself stronger so it will pass.
But, it’s not going away.
This is the fog from which I’m walking through and writing to you today.
It’s not always talked about, but the faith journey is like walking through a fog, thick as it rolls over the mountains, onto the trail you’re hiking through. Maybe you’ve driven through the mist at night, as you’re looking for that exit — or found it clinging to your windshield early in the dawn, as you begin a long road trip on a cold autumn day.
It happens. When you start out with the most hopeful intentions on a new journey — whether you’re looking for an exit from a difficult situation — or maybe just caught in between unexpected changes.
It dawns on you.
Life is going to be different. For you. Or your family, friend, or child.
Maybe it’s your health, your job, a relationship or a hope deferred.
For me, it’s been a mixture of all four.
The fog can do that. It can suddenly bring thoughts and feelings that you’ve often wanted to just move through. Instead, you find yourself returning to questions and circumstances that settle down around your mind and heart, like fragments of tea leaves that circle to the bottom of your cup. No matter how carefully you sipped or sieved.
And maybe like me, you begin to wonder…
When will this fog lift?
And how long will God let it stay?
This fog I’ve been walking through has a peculiar name.
It happens when we’re willing to honestly look at the truth of what we’re experiencing — and give ourselves permission to allow God to enter into it.
To stay there with Him.
As we are.
It’s been a very difficult and hard road of healing for me. Because I want healing to happen on my timetable.
I read Scripture and remember only the instant miracles. And I wonder why I can’t receive them too.
But old wounds and old memories that have never given me any problems suddenly ignited into real anxieties and current day fears. It seems so wasteful. All this time spent going through trauma I had long left behind me. Why in the world would God choose to bring them up now, when I’ve gotten along fine all along?
Healing is oh-so-inconvenient.
Honestly, friends. Don’t you think?
But, it turns out when you unlock your dreams and dare your heart to open, our soul isn’t a maze of rooms that we can compartmentalize.
Yes, Lord Jesus. Open up this part of my heart. This I can share! No, Lord Jesus. Keep this other part shut. Who would want to open that door?!
God’s not moving me any faster through the uncertainty. So like a true engineer, I’ve been trying to trouble shoot what it is that’s keeping God’s healing from accelerating in my life.
What is that I’m not doing enough of — or am I doing wrong?
Is there something broken with my faith — or it not enough faith?
I’ve been looking for answers, but God painted a picture for me instead.
It happened one morning last weekend, when I least expected an answer. My son TJ had Sunday School “homework” and I was reading a passage in the Old Testament with him.
I hadn’t slept well at all the night before. And I was surely walking around that morning toasting bagels and pouring milk for the boys in a fog.
As I read the verses in auto-pilot mode, I was taken to a desert, where the people of Israel for sure felt stranded.
As long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped.
Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days, the sons of Israel would keep the LORD’S charge and not set out…
If sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning, when the cloud was lifted in the morning, they would move out;
or if it remained in the day time and at night, whenever the cloud was lifted, they would set out.
Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle,
staying above it,
the sons of Israel remained camped and did not set out;
but when it was lifted, they did set out.”
It kinda looked more like fog to me.
I know about the fog.
I’m with you — in this fog.
Then, I knew. Down in my gut, where my stomach drew a breath and my heart started beating, as I took the Bible from TJs hands and told him, “Mommy wants to read this for a minute.”
And I read and re-read the passage. Scanning it line by line.
I understood what God was saying to me, as I saw the cloud over the tabernacle of my heart cover and lift — some times lifting for a moment at night, some times lifting for longer stretches during the day. Some days are good and some days are very bad.
I am not in control of this fog.
He alone decides —
how long this fog will stay,
when it will lift,
when it will descend once again.
Healing comes in patches, my friends. I am understanding this is how God wants me to walk with Jesus. A patch of fog lifting at a time. Not knowing how long He’s going to have me stay where I’m at. Not knowing when He’ll be calling me to start out again.
My Heart, His Home
Sometimes, God lifts the fog longer than other times. And on those days, I understand far more than I had in the days before. And I move. As long as I keep moving whenever the fog lifts, I am keeping life with Jesus. And on the days the fog lingers, I stay. This too, is living life with Jesus.
I was greatly comforted — as a smile broke out under my baggy eyes — God’s presence has covered this tabernacle residing in my heart.
God’s presence is eternally strong, never broken in me, because He’s sealed me with His Holy Spirit.
My heart is His home.
I will keep camping, as hard as it is to stay put. But, I will keep looking out for the patches of fog that lift. And when it does, whatever steps He shows me — even if it’s just one step — I pray for the courage to step out into the unknown. Even though I am afraid.
This has slowly become my prayer now. Not that the fog will disappear. But, I’m asking for the courage and faith to persevere. Who knows how long this journey will be. Two days, one week, or (grimace) — could it be — one year? Honestly, I can’t think that far ahead. I can only take it an hour at a time right now.
As sure as the morning breaks into the noonday sun, this fog will lift. And each day the moon ascends back into the night, and the coolness brings the fog back, I am trusting — that the God behind these cycles that are turning waves, breaking onto the ocean — He remembers and He loves me. This is the thought I rest in. This is the thought that stays.
Stay or Go
Sometimes, God doesn’t change the circumstances we find ourselves in, no matter how hard we pray. God is bringing us out to a new clearing in our lives. But, to journey there, we are led to a place where only God knows the way out and we are left with new realities — about how we truly feel and the many questions we wish we could dare to ask.
Is God having you stay where you’re at right now?
In the moments when the fog lifts, what does He show you — what does He say?
Even if that one step is brief and seemingly simple, as it has been for me —
doing that load of laundry,
taking that walk, even if briefly,
asking a friend to come hang out for an hour,
calling a friend to just catch up and chat,
enjoying a cup of mint tea that’s been sitting on the shelf for a while (and squeezing some honey in it),
taking a long, hot bath and playing some jazz on Pandora after the kids are down,
journaling dark one night about that memory that can’t seem to subside,
giving yourself a break and letting the kids eat mac and cheese (again),
closing your eyes during worship on Sunday and letting yourself cry just a little inside,
going back home in the afternoon, to clean out a closet, nap or cry a lot in your bed,
hugging your children and tickling them, just because it’s fun to cut loose for awhile,
lying quiet in your bed to think back to the time you swam in a lake or sunbaked in the sand,
lying quiet in your bed and letting this day or this night be as good or as hard as it truly has been.
Don’t worry about how long you can sustain or continue that one step.
Give yourself permission to walk on this journey of faith, one hour at a time. One day at a time.
I don’t know where the cloud of God’s presence has you right now.
But, I want you to know — when the fog just seems to heavy — we are not alone.
We can walk through the fog with each other.
We can walk through the fog with Jesus, friends.
Because He is with us.
He is in charge.
We can rest.
How is God calling you to stay or to go — in your journey of faith?
What picture, words or moments is Jesus calling you to rest in — today?
Take a moment to share. Click to comment. It’s always a soul treat to hear you speak.
By Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith for everyday life.
Photo credit: ttakasugi via Photobucket.