I have been looking forward to Fall and all that it brings. I love the rich autumn colors in the trees and the briskness of the cooler weather as we begin to settle into a new season. However, the last couple of weeks have not been typical for this time of year.
It has been very unpleasant as smoke from the fires in Oregon and California and those in nearby Sumner, Washington have drifted into our town of Gig Harbor and the surrounding area. A thick, hazy blanket of smoke has rolled in replacing our normal clean and clear air with what is said to be the worst air quality in the world! Just when we were able to be out and about a bit more, we are once again confined to our homes in order to keep our lungs from being contaminated by the thick and heavy smoke.
As I sit here writing, I can hear foghorns in the distance. I can usually see across the Narrows Passage, a beautiful waterway visible from my kitchen window. On a clear day, I can see glorious Mount Rainier positioned majestically in the distance and observe the changing colors of the season across on the distant shore. Sadly, today I cannot see more than twenty yards out the window and it is causing me to feel a bit anxious and claustrophobic. I find myself wondering yet again when it will be “normal” so that we can get on with our lives and get outside?!
Our view across the Narrows Passage on a normal day
Our view the last couple of weeks due to the smoke
More than ever, I need to lean into God’s promise that He is in control and is with me in this uncertain time. I remind myself that it will get better: the smoke will blow out once the Fall rain and winds arrive.
But until then, this all-encompassing foggy smoke triggers feelings of uncertainty and anxiety that can border on depression and despair.
The coming weeks and months feel just as hazy and I question what my future holds. Yet hearing the continuous blasts of the foghorns in the distance brings to mind a special memory.
Not long ago, we had some special friends for dinner on our outdoor porch. It was a cool evening and having just finished our meal, we gathered cozily by the warmth of the nearby fireplace. The weather was overcast and foggy and my husband began to reminisce about his memories of foggy days growing up. He shared that he vividly remembered foghorns blowing in the morning as he headed off to school. That specific sound signified good things were coming–that the sun was sure to come out and therefore recess would be OUTSIDE (every boy’s dream). He knew that on gray, drizzly days when there was no foghorn blowing that there would be no outdoor recess, a disheartening reality. This memory and its message about the foghorn prompted some deep discussion and we listened closely as one of our dear friends shared how recently she had been struggling with depression.
She was so encouraged by the reminder that the sun WILL come out again and that the fog WILL be lifted as would the dark and heavy emotions that hung over her.
She left that evening with hope and encouragement, buoyed by the message that things WILL get better and brighter; she felt a sense of some comfort and joy.
Weeks later, we found out from her husband how significant our conversation that night had been for our friend. Earlier that day she had considered staying home because of the depression and all the anxious thoughts she was fighting. Her husband shared with us that she literally seemed to be in a fog. At the last minute, she had decided to join our gathering and was so thankful she did. God’s timing is always perfect and to this day she still talks about how that night helped her turn a corner in her battle with depression.
Recently I have come across a quote from Corrie Ten Boom that is so timely and greatly encourages me. She said:
“Faith is like radar that sees through the fog. By God’s grace, we see by faith the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.”
Just as I cannot see the beautiful mountain out my window right now, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is still there. It has been smoky here for a week and I long to see Mt. Rainier in all its glory once again but until then, I am confident of its presence; it hasn’t moved. This has been a reminder to me of God’s presence in my life amidst all the uncertainty, in those times when I cannot see Him. Sometimes I can’t see any evidence of Him at work as my vision is blocked by the pressing circumstances.
But that is where my eyes of faith come into focus and bring light into the dark places. I am reminded that God is still on the throne and has amazing plans and unfailing love to pour out on you and me.
We need to continue to trust and hold onto His promises that will help us to rise above and behold His glorious radiating Son! And we can hold onto the promise that the sun will come out, the smoke and fog will disappear, and our eyes will once again see the beauty of Fall and all its golden colors. I am so thankful for the light and hope that the Lord brings in the uncertain circumstances of life!
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
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