One thing I love about my current work is traveling to new places. I went to the Pacific Northwest for the first time this weekend to give a couple of talks at a beautiful parish west of Seattle. I was very excited to see a place I had heard so much about through family and friends, and to enjoy the scenery and terrain so different from my own.
Yes, I know Seattle is rainy and foggy. I know the stories regarding « the mountain » being » out.” So I believe I had proper expectations… but those expectations were exceeded. For five days, a dense, heavy fog surrounded us. Morning, noon, and night. Fog. Even the pastor of the parish admitted “ » it’s quite unusual… I’ve never experienced this much fog for this many days in a row.”
For a brief moment on one of the days, the fog lifted, as my friends and I was on a walk in a beautiful area near the western edge of the Cascade Mountains. It didn’t lift completely, but it lifted enough for me to suddenly see that we were essentially surrounded by mountains. It was the third day of my trip, and until then, I had not seen them. I didn’t know exactly where they were, and I didn’t know what they looked like. The clouds had been so dense, the mountains had been invisible to my eye. But for fifteen minutes, they appeared in their glory. Then they were gone, never again to be seen for the rest of the trip.
Our trip into Seattle was the same. No Mount Rainier, no Olympic Mountains, not even a glimpse of Bainbridge Island across the Sound. If you did not know any of it was there, you would have thought Seattle was on the Pacific Ocean or surrounded by the farmlands of my youth.
I jokingly kept repeating that I didn’t believe any of it really existed. Mountains? What mountains?
Do we ever do that?
Perhaps you know atheists or agnostics who have done this. If you believe in God or assert any ultimate reality is unknowable. The material world is the only thing we can measure and evaluate; scientific evidence is all the matters.
Have you ever done it in smaller ways? Has the fog of suffering or darkness ever surrounded you, making it difficult to believe in God’s love? Have the anxieties of the world ever descended on you, making it hard to trust in his omnipotence? Has it ever been tempting to take matters into your own hands because God just seemed so silent?
Is it difficult to live for heaven, for the promises in Scripture, when we so often have to take it all on faith? It’s easy to live for this life-for what we can see and experience. It’s easy to make choices thinking only of present comforts. But God calls us to live for what we cannot see; to trust in him even when we can’t feel him; to persevere through the suffering even when he feels far away.
At times, the veil is lifted. We have a glimpse of God’s mysterious plan or we see evidence of him working in the world. In other times of life, we walk forward in a fog, with no consolation of his presence. Keep walking. In faith.
Faith is a gift. If you have been given it, thank God for it every day. Ask him to increase the gift in you. Pray for the gift of faith for those who struggle to believe, who are looking for signs, who are unable to believe without seeing. I want you to Pray for those who are in a dark patch of life, when the love and goodness of God is hard to see and feel.
God is here. He is present and working, even when he feels father. I love you. So keep walking.