Andrea was digging to find something in her pack, and I straightened up to cast another look at where the horizon should have been. Suddenly I let out an exclamation and caught my breath. A slit had appeared in the swirling mist, a tear through the cottony curtain into the blueness beyond. For seconds, I caught a glorious view of mountaintops poking up through clouds, blue sky above them. Then, before I could get Andrea’s attention, it was gone. I shouted something in her ear about how there had been a beautiful view, and she turned to look, but the vista was, once again, only fog. We watched hopefully, eagerly,--and then it happened again, and we both cried out with delight at the beauty and I fumbled for my camera. But no camera could capture that dynamic moment of elation, awe, moving clouds, and clear vision. It tried, and failed.
For the next twelve hours we hiked, hopeful for another rend in the clouds or even a ray of clear sunshine. Once or twice, the veil was pulled away and we could see the panorama of splendor that surrounded us.
The rest of the time, our world was shrunk to a diameter of about a hundred feet, sometimes less, punctuated by hail, rain, and snow. We trudged on from one cairn to cairn, watching for the next one to emerge from the fog ahead. We were never lost—we always knew where we were, where we had come from, and where we were going. We simply couldn’t see any of it.
After that moment of breathtaking sight on top of Mt. Madison, I exclaimed to Andrea, “If that’s all the view we get all day, this hike will have been worth it!” And it was. Because that moment has returned to my mind many times this summer, when all that I could see of the significance of my life seemed no more than swirling mist and dull fog, annoying rain and stinging hail, trudging from one week to the next as I flipped the calendar pages.
2 Corinthians 5:7 took on a new meaning for me, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” The mountains, the valleys, the horizon, the sun, the blue sky, all were absolutely real, even when I couldn’t see them. The trail lay where it always had, the cairns were just as substantial, the map was just as trustworthy—and in this was our salvation. If we had been following our sight, we would have been lost in no time. As far as we could see, the terrain beyond the wall of fog could have been the Sahara Desert, or the Amazon jungle; we could as well have been at the bottom of a ravine as on top of a mountain ridge.
The promises and purposes of God are quite unchanged, whether or not I can see their fulfillment. The righteousness of God is as substantial and changeless as the mountains (Ps. 36:6), and therefore I do not need to fear that when the fog clears, the light of God’s smile will have gone out. His will, revealed day by day, is steadfastly leading me to the goal that only He can see. The panorama view of the purpose of God for the entire universe throughout all of eternity, is glorious and breathtaking, and when, every so often, He gives me a glimpse of my place in that plan, it sustains me for the next long trek through the fog.
Why the fog, then? Maybe it’s because when there’s nothing else to see, my eyes will learn to focus on Him, the Originator of all things beautiful. When there’s no one else to talk to, when the noise of the wind drowns out the clamor of other voices, my soul is drawn to commune with Him. The beauty of the view would be nothing without Him as its Maker, and so He teaches me to enjoy Him first and foremost. Maybe it’s because the fog is as much a part of His beautiful plan as anything else.