"Do we really have to go through?" groaned the hobbit. "Yes, you do!" said the wizard, "if you want to get to the other side. You must either go through or give up your quest."
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Jeff is still reading The Hobbit with Luke at night. Moving through it slowly chapter by chapter. I listen in the hallway, folding laundry, getting the others ready for bed. I have started it too, not satisfied with just parts overheard. The Mirkwood forest is what Bilbo is afraid of going through. The picture in my mind matches the photo above, deep forests laden with fog.
The photo was taken of a forest in Basque. And the Basque Country is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Large amounts of rainfall leave everything saturated in lush green foliage. Nestled between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Bay of Biscay, the land is sculpted by its surroundings and often seen through fog or mist. And fog and mist is beautiful in a picture or story. It exudes symbolism. But to be in the middle of it is quiet another thing all together. It is what sailors fear more than high winds or waves.
This past week Culpeper was pushed through a fog thicker than I can remember. As the warm front collided with a cooler one. It was as if clouds had gotten sick of being so high and came down to settle closer. Driving was disorientating. The familiar land marks hidden in the folds of the fog. We had to move slower, look closer, and sometimes turn around after passing our own house. For three days it hovered and then slowly gave way to rain.
And so I feel we are in the fog laden forest right now in this process. The entire process, timeline, and details come into focus and then blur again. The unknowns still far out weigh the known. And just like navigating in the fog, looking at a map doesn't seem to help because it all looks so simple, so different on the map. I am reading through the Bible in a year and have just read through the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have read how each made mistakes following God, mistakes made in the name of fear. Fear after God promises provision and protection. I was surprised to read how similar their failings were. As if the father could not guard the son from his own missteps. When I read about them in Hebrews they are men of faith, they are commended for that faith. And it doesn't seem to match up. Fearful mistakes being made right by faith. I take a deep breath. I start at the beginning of Hebrews again. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." This is what they were commended for. Father to son, stumbling, fearful, and ultimately trusting. And so my fear and stumbling does not negate my faith that He is bigger. That this place of waiting is not a passive act but one of obedience, being certain that He who leads us in the light can also lead us through the fog.
I pray that you will walk by faith when sight is hindered. That you trust a God that leads us as a good Father. One that will provide and protect and not leave us even when we are fearful and stumble.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
This is what the ancients were commended for."