Can you think of a time when circumstances were so confusing it was unclear which way to turn? We’ve all been there:
“They want an answer today, and yet I have reservations about the job.”
“I know I shouldn’t make a higher offer, but the house is so perfect.”
“How do I choose between the treatment options my doctor is offering?”
Sometimes the path through our challenges has the visibility of low-hanging fog. When that happens, it helps to remember we’re not alone, fending for ourselves. God—the Companion who’s promised never to leave us (Deut. 31:6)—sees not just through haze and darkness but into the future, knowing every ramification of each possible choice. And He will guide us when we “do not lean on [our] own understanding” (Prov. 3:5-6).
God—the Companion who’s promised never to leave us—sees not just through haze and darkness but into the future, knowing every ramification of each possible choice.
Dr. Stanley’s picture of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile reminded me of a rather literal illustration of this principle. The intersection of earth and sky takes me back to the sunny day 15 years ago when my family and out-of-state guests hiked up Stone Mountain, anticipating a glorious view of Atlanta from the summit.
As we neared the midpoint and, fortunately, the only roofed shelter on the trail, a deafening thunderstorm materialized with zero warning. Drenched and somewhat unnerved, we got to watch the spectacle from the relative safety of that open-sided structure. Then, as abruptly as the weather had turned violent, sunshine and calm returned.
Though a bit more wary than at the outset, we assumed the threat was gone and continued our climb. But it was one of those days that seem to have a week’s worth of weather in a matter of hours. Clouds again formed nearby—this time long and distinct, similar to those in the photo, only vertical instead of horizontal. Like fellow hikers, they too ascended the steep incline, occasionally enshrouding our little party in fog. (Did you know disorientation is an effective prayer prompt?) But we made it to the end of the trail—just as the cloud “fingers” reached over the top and began to clasp one another.
They say that on a clear day, you can see 60 miles from where we were standing. But we could barely see 60 feet. So without lingering, we headed back, hoping there might still be patchy spots and occasional visibility.
Each time we were engulfed in cloud, I felt an initial sense of isolation as the others disappeared from view. But peace returned with the realization I was with “the [God] who sees me.”
Down proved more challenging than up, thanks to the wet trail and fog (plus, as conventional wisdom warns, no one ever falls up a mountain). Each time we were engulfed in cloud, I felt an initial sense of isolation as the others disappeared from view. But peace returned with the realization I was with “the [God] who sees me” (Gen. 16:13 NLT).
After a slightly longer than usual descent, we arrived at the parking lot, glad to begin enjoying our adventure in hindsight and to debrief. Turns out I hadn’t been the only one praying my way down the mountain! We had something else in common, too: gratitude for a hike far more memorable than if the view had been perfection—and for a “cliffhanger” story we’d retell through the years. But above all, we were thankful for the One who’s used to showing up in a cloud (Ex. 13:21) and guiding His children to safety.