Fog on the Road
This is a story about sunshine.
For years now my family has routinely taken a vacation during March. It works well for our kids’ Spring Break, and it’s always that time in Minnesota when everyone could use a little sunshine. And warmer air. And the sight of grass. That was the idea anyway when we loaded up the Transit and set off for the Carolinas via overnight stays in Chicago and Lexington. The further southeast we drove, the more excited we all became — until Day 2 in Kentucky. We woke up to complete the last leg of our drive and it was snowing … the thick, heavy snow, too.
Resolved not to be slowed, we left when I had planned, hastening to depart winter. But the snow just turned to rain, and then the rain turned to fog, and there I was, trekking through the Appalachian mountains with a carsick co-pilot and seven of the most restless, valuable passengers in the world. With both hands on the wheel, stuck in my own thoughts, I drove ahead for hours. I listened to some podcasts and music, and mainly prayed. More than anything I wanted sunshine — sunshine instead of fog, clarity instead of chaos, joy instead of despair. That is what sunshine represents, after all.
Sunshine means all things good and whole, true and happy, alive and well. It most certainly isn’t science, by which means arbitrariness. Nothing is arbitrary — not when the Bible tells us: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). There is never a moment when you can walk outside, look up in the sky, and see something neutral. The sky is proclaiming God’s glory, and what separates humanity is not those who see the glory, but those who either give thanks for it or degenerate into futility by not giving thanks for it (see Romans 1:20–21).
The sun works for God. That is what Psalm 19 says. God commissions the sun every day to run his course with joy. Like a strong man, the sun takes to his trail every morning, east to west, beaming with gladness (see Psalm 19:4–6). This means that when we see the sun, we are seeing God’s messenger. The sunshine is telling us something, and on the road from Lexington, it was something I desperately needed to hear. But all I saw was fog.
And there’s a message in the fog, too. Clouds are saying something, and the best part is that they will not always be. I was able to work through that as I drove.
Okay, I get the fog, Father. I know that while these clouds might hide your joy from my eyes right now, your joy is still there, and eventually these clouds will lift. Eventually I am going to see your joy again. I’m going to feel your pleasure again.
And so I drove.
It was a couple hours later. There was only more fog. The road became windier. The van was silent.
I knew we were getting closer to North Carolina. One of our customs on the road is to bid farewell and greetings as we pass from one state to another: “Everyone say ‘Bye Minnesota! Hello Wisconsin!, etc.” And the most anticipated announcement, of course, was to be “Bye Tennessee! Hello North Carolina!” And that moment was approaching, there in the fog and quiet, as I drove.
And I’m not kidding you. With the “Welcome to North Carolina” sign in view, there on I-40, for the first time on March 8, the sun broke through the clouds and struck me. It landed on me, right on my face. The road and trees, wet from the rain, glistened with glory. My God, the sun! And before I could say anything, one of my daughters exclaimed, “The sun!”
The sun was shining on us, on me, and I gave thanks.
Because God made that sunshine for me. It didn’t last long. We eventually drove into more clouds and rain. But in that moment, as we passed into my home state, God commissioned the sun to tell me something. There was nothing generic about it. Not a chance. The Father who knows every time a sparrow falls, and who numbers the hairs on my head, and who feeds the lions and pours out his speech day to day, he knew what he was doing as I drove down that road (Matthew 10:29–31; Psalm 104:21; 19:2).
He knows his children intricately (Psalm 139:2–5), and he knows where his glory shines (Psalm 145:6–7), and in that moment, on I-40, God put his sunshine where he knew I needed it. Because God loves me. And you too.
This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise;
in the Lord, whose word I praise.
In God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What shall man do to me?