I grew up and learned to drive in California’s Central Valley. With a December birthday, I turned 16—and got my drivers license—right as we were headed into the winter months.
For the most part, winters were fairly mild where I lived. I think it snowed less than 1/2″ total the entire 25 years that I lived there. But temperatures would often drop into the 20s for several days at a time, and since our winters were humid, we would often experience dense fog.
When I say “dense fog”, I’m not exaggerating. It was like driving through cotton balls. It was called “tule fog“. While it would usually hover maybe 15′ above the ground during the daytime, it was not uncommon for the fog to settle on the ground in the cool of the evening. Many times I was literally unable to see the hood ornament on my 1979 Pontiac Grand Prix. It was very similar to driving in whiteout blizzard conditions, but instead of accumulating snow the fog would often condense then freeze into black ice.
Turning on your high beams made visibility worse since the fog just reflected the lights back into your eyes. In fact, it was easiest to see by completely turning off your headlights altogether. Of course, this was a dangerous idea because no one else on the road could see you. If you were fortunate to have a friend with you, they might get out and walk ahead of the car to guide you safely through the worst parts.
Obviously, as a 16-year-old with a new drivers license, I had all the experience I needed to safely navigate zero-visibility conditions. (That was sarcasm, in case you missed it.)
Last week I was making my usual 30-minute Wednesday morning drive to pray with a few guys from my church in the San Diego area. It was probably the foggiest day I’ve experienced since I moved to Wisconsin back in 1999. I could still see approximately 500 feet, so I felt safe enough to drive, but I did find myself thinking, “It’s a good thing I know the way because it would be easy to miss a turn.”
You could say that Kelly and I have been in a foggy patch the last couple months. We knew where we were, where we were going, and the path we were currently on, but some things were really hard to see. We had a vision and knew that God would allow us to see that vision fulfilled, but couldn’t figure out how we were going to get from here to there.
During some quiet time in prayer last Wednesday, God spoke to me about that morning’s foggy drive and about the cotton ball fog of my youth. He revealed four spiritual truths about navigating the fog.
Never turn your lights off—It may seem easier, but it’s dangerous and no one knows you’re there. No matter how hard it is for us to see the path we need to follow in our lives, we are the light of the world. If no one can see us, and the Light that shines in us, it is dangerous for both them and us.
You’re not as wise as you think—I was not as wise at 16 years old as I thought myself to be at that time. In fact, I was pretty dumb sometimes. There were at least a couple times I should have just let my parents know I would be staying at my friend’s house for the night and driving home in the morning when I could see better. When you’re in the middle of a confusing situation, and can’t see all the details, sometimes you just need to camp out with your friend, the Holy Spirit, until things become more clear.
Sometimes you need a guide—Sometimes it’s so hard to see that you need someone you trust to guide you through it. Find people you trust and build relationships with them. Pray with them on a regular basis. You’ll each have a chance to be the guide when the other needs to be guided.
Learn the way ahead of time—If you learn the way ahead of time, you’ll be safer during the times it’s hard to see. If you learn to pray and grow your faith when you feel like you’re on top of the world, you’re learning the way. Then when the fog comes, you can depend on that familiarity for peace and direction because you know that the direction of the road has not changed because of your inability to see it.
It was so encouraging to hear Him speak to me about getting through a foggy situation. But God, like He often does, saved the best for last.
So, I am color blind. I don’t live in a black and white world, but I get many colors confused. I can’t be trusted to pick out my own clothes unless I know I’ve worn the same thing before. If the lights were dim near the linen closet, I couldn’t tell if I had the red towel or the green towel. There are some colors that I can’t even begin to describe.
As a small kid, I always wondered why people said the traffic lights were red, yellow and green when they looked like red, yellow and white to me. Especially with the type of bulbs they used back in the 70s and 80s, the green light always looked white to me because it was so bright, shining from a small, focused area.
But in the fog, I am able to see the green. The light glows in the mist around the signal, dimming and diffusing, illuminating a larger diameter. I am actually able to see the green color for what it is. So here’s the fifth thing God told me at prayer last week.
Miracles happen because of the fog—Yes, the fog makes it hard to see. It makes things dangerous. It’s easy to get confused. But be encouraged. When you’ve learned the way ahead of time, and you are being a light along the path to where you know God wants you to go, your faith and faithfulness are preparing you for a miracle.
Something that is completely impossible when you’re living in the comfort of clarity can become a miraculous testimony when you’re driving through the fog.