Have you ever been in a mental fog? Thinking is slow, memory fails in key points, the senses fail to register properly. Sometimes it can be hard to shake. Sometimes it might have some physiological cause behind it. More often, it’s a set of circumstances that leads to a temporary stupor. Diet, sleep, stress, environment can all contribute to dull the senses.
Some people seem to live in a spiritual fog. Their spiritual senses are dulled by worldly pursuits and fleshly interests. Neglect of spiritual duties can bury one in a deep cloud. Such a state of being tends to be long-term, unless someone intervenes to show them a way out of darkness. That process of intervention is called, ahem, evangelism, when directed toward non-Christians, or edification, when saints are in view.
Christians can find themselves in a temporary spiritual fog. Sometimes, their experience doesn’t gibe with their expectations. Until they dig into Scripture again and come to grips with truth and reality, their minds can be slow to adapt.
God’s refining process leads a saint to deal with the pain of growth. Jonah carried his fog with him aboard a ship. Jeremiah’s anguish hovered over him during his denunciations of Judah’s sin. Habakkuk argued with God until he figured out where the divine plan was headed.
Like the prophets, Christians sometimes struggle to exit the other side of the fog. Peter’s vision of the sheet full of animals left him perplexed. While Jesus served on earth, the disciples stumbled from one christological mistake to another. Persecution often lead disciples to grapple with the meaning of faithfulness and the value of their commitment.
Life in Christ isn’t always a bed of roses. Faith brings hard challenges. Love stretches saints to the limit.
So the fog serves its purpose. To lie down in it and flounder is tempting, but that way brings death. Wading through it until the light breaks brings a reward of maturity and strength.
¶ Brazilians have a saying that if you don’t have a dog, hunt with a cat. We spend time wishing we had this advantage or that ability and let the opportunities slip away from us. When we learn to make do with what we have, we discover that Christ blesses the most modest effort. And, later, the dog just might appear on our doorstep.
¶ “What about him?” It’s a question arising out of our sense of human fairness. We compare ourselves with others, with a limited perspective that inevitably gets it wrong. We fear someone else will come away with an advantage. We don’t want to get the short end of the stick. So Jesus says to us, “What’s it to you? Just do your job.” My paraphrase of John 21.20-23.
¶ Have you noticed how many special days have been added to the calendar? So many that the special has become banal. Happy National (US?) Baked Ham with Pineapple Day, by the way. (This was written yesterday.)
Oh, and April 15 was National Rubber Eraser Day. I guess it was meant to coincide with tax day, as you try to figure out how to fill out the intricate tax forms.
¶ This just in: Larry Williams, a missionary who lived in Campinas when I was a student spending my summers abroad, died this afternoon in Colorado. He and his wife Loretta spent eight years in Brazil. I saw Loretta a few years ago in a visit to Southern Christian Homes in Morrilton AR, where they worked at the time. Larry had been executive director of the home.
¶ Speaking of the old crew, Howard Norton is in Brazil these days, with his wife Jane, preaching and helping out at the Nove de Julho congregation in São Paulo, which he helped to establish back in the day.
¶ Want evidence that American society thinks having wheels is the way to go? Take the meaning of the word pedestrian. Besides being a person on foot, it means something dull or undistinguished, such as “pedestrian prose.” Nobody wants to be (a) pedestrian. Must be a flat-footed joke in there somewhere.
¶ I wish I had time to do a regular column along these lines: “Today’s Greek word: katharos.” I’m no Greek scholar, but chasing down words is a pleasure. Perhaps in heaven the Lord will allow us time to pursue those interests that we didn’t have time for here on earth, reckon?
¶ Last word: Time is short, eternity is real, make sure you’re ready.