While going to college at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene Texas, I became very familiar with a stretch of road on Hwy 277. About twenty miles Southwest of Abilene the road changes from the stereotypical straight, flat, and open terrain of West Texas into a curving, undulating and tight stretch of road. Granted the use of the term ‘mountains’ cannot be used here, but when compared to the flat terrain of the surrounding area these hills come as quite a surprise to the unsuspecting driver. No longer will your cruise and lane assist feature in your car keep you on the road. You actually have to grab the wheel and move your foot back and forth from the gas to the break in order to navigate through the hills of the Callahan Divide.
As youth pastor back in my hometown of Sterling City, I drove this stretch of road nearly every week for three years. Obviously, I became very familiar with the curves and undulations of this road. One night as I entered this stretch of road, there was an unexpected guest that joined me; fog. I have driven in fog many times, but this time was different. The visibility was extremely limited, the lights from my vehicle were only marginally better than using nothing at all, and the curves and undulations I had become so familiar with were now hidden; but, no less real. The curves I had learned to manage during normal conditions were now elevated to a much higher degree of risk. The addition of the fog made me acutely aware of the challenges the road always posed.
In order to portray the façade of being manly, I could tell you I just plowed into the fog with little care or worry: however, this would be a blatant lie. I was scared. The fog was so thick I knew I could end up off the road, in the oncoming lane or being rear-ended without even knowing it. No matter what, I was going to face danger. I can remember trying to recall the curves of the road that had been ingrained in my memory through repetition. I began thinking about this stretch of road in a completely different way than normal; I couldn’t just casually navigate through the hills as usual, I needed to focus. The fog was challenge on its own, but the fog also accentuated the danger that was always there.
I can’t help but think that life is similar to this situation. Even in the best of circumstances, life always presents us with challenges and danger just like that stretch of road on Hwy 277. For the most part, we learn to handle the common curves life has for us; however, sometimes the fog hits. In times like these we are reminded of the unpredictability of life and how little control we really have. Life can change just as quickly as the fog roles in and out. Around nine months ago our family encountered a fog of life; cancer. When my Mom was diagnosed with cancer we all experienced the shock and emotional weight that all feel when a family member is diagnosed with cancer. It was amazing how this added emotional weight permeated all aspects of life. The fog of cancer brings into focus how difficult navigating the road of life can be.
Jesus’ disciples must have experienced a powerful fog when Jesus was sealed up in that tomb. Suddenly, their lives were torn apart. Everything they believed to be true and gave them hope for the future was sealed up with Jesus. How would they be able to navigate life without the one who gave them purpose and hope? Those few days must have been so dark for the followers of Jesus. They had to feel completely helpless. While the disciples were still engulfed in the fog life had covered them with, something began to stir within the tomb. As the stone was pushed aside, the radiant glory of the risen Christ began to fill the earth like the sunrays at daybreak. Hope, love, and joy entered into the world in a new and powerful way. The only thing that would help the disciples navigate through the fog had happened. Their lives would not get easier, but now they had a new light to live by.
You will find yourself in the fog of life at some point. Maybe you are there now. I want to encourage you remember the truth of the resurrection. The new life we have in Christ does not mean the fog will never come, but that when it does we have a navigator; one who peels back the fog and allows us to experience hope and joy. The outcome in this life is not certain, but the reality of Christ’s presence is unquestionable.
Right now our family is celebrating the fact that my Mom’s cancer is in complete remission. The road has not been easy and the outcome was not always certain; however, the presence of Christ was always certain. Ultimately, we were able to find hope and joy in the midst of the fog. And if the fog returns we know our navigator has never left us.
In order to make it through the fog filled hills outside of Abilene I had to slow down and rely on what I knew about that stretch of road. I had to focus. If you are in the fog, slow down and focus. Focus on the one who is with you always. The one who is there to rejoice with you and mourn with you. No fog is too thick to blot out the power of our risen Christ.