Walking In The Fog

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Misty Lake by David Coleman
Misty Lake by @David Coleman, Dreamstime.com

This originally appeared as a weekly devo on whillschurch.org. I’ve edited it from its original version.

I was in Basic at Fort Lewis, Washington. It’s in the cold, wet, and foggy Pacific Northwest. Our drill instructors would keep us up all night, march all day, train well into the evening, then put us on helicopters for hours flying us into the middle of nowhere with nothing but a compass and a map. They would kick us out of the helicopter, “shoot” at us, fire mortars around us. They would do this in the rain, snow, fog, night, cold, or heat. All for the purpose to get us disoriented…confused…”in the fog.”

Then they’d watch to see who made good decisions and who didn’t.

The whole point was to train us how to handle ‘the fog of war.’ There are hundred of decisions that have to be made in the fog – where to go, what to do, who to assign to what task, what risks to take, what risks to avoid. From the simple to the complicated – decisions HAVE to be made in the fog. That’s inevitable.

You don’t have to make a bad decision.

One thing we quickly learned was there is only one starting place for good decisions made in the fog.

First, get your bearing.

Don’t run, don’t panic. Don’t guess. Don’t react. Don’t just sit down and complain or quit. Don’t lose hope or faith. Don’t overreach either. Keep your head and find true north. Get your bearing.

That may mean climbing to a higher elevation, returning to familiar ground. It definitely means pulling out a map and a compass, possibly changing your perspective. It means asking for help, confirming that where you think you are is indeed where you really are.

But you don’t let the fog win. You don’t allow it to make you paralyzed. You don’t allow it to win. You can’t.

But you also shouldn’t underestimate the fog. The fog is real. It rolls in with bad news and tragedy. It comes when the doctor tells us there is cancer or the sickness has returned. When things take a sudden turn for the worse. A child rebels, a spouse cheats, a loved one dies. It can be financial ruin or emotional turmoil.

The fog may roll in with a physical act or reality – sickness or injury. But the fog itself isn’t something physical that one can manhandle or manipulate away. It oozes in and confounds the best of people. It makes everything more complicated, more drawn out. It has this incredible knack of making things seem more dangerous, more fearful than what they really are.

The only good way out of the fog is to first find your bearing.

It’s often easier said than done. I’m not suggesting otherwise. I’m merely trying to remind us – me especially – that so many times the very thing we ought to do first is the very thing we ignore doing. Where am I? Why am I in this spot? What is going on? What could God be doing here? Where is He taking me? Am I forcing something? Am I missing something? Creating space to hear from God – not just speak to Him. Digging into the Scriptures. These fundamentals help us find our bearing.

The bigger point – it’s not a good decision to walk through the fog alone. We can’t always trust ourselves in the fog. We need another set of eyes and ears. It’s why being in a Connect Group and having a disciplining relationship is so important. These relationships help us find our north. They can help us see the larger story that is unfolding at times.

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