I was able to hide this situation well, and you would never have known how I was feeling if you simply were talking to me. I was frustrated because I was not aware of the source of this foreign feeling. My marriage was great, my family was wonderful, my health was good, work was engaging. I kept asking myself why was I feeling this way?
I had planned on taking a day off on a particular Thursday morning. I woke up early to attend a planned breakfast but was looking forward to a day at the beach…. some time off…some me time. We always need those moments to be replenished, and if we don’t get them, we begin to work off a source of strength that is not from God but from our own abilities, which never ends well. I noticed as I looked out the window that morning that a thick fog had blanketed our South Florida community. We don’t get fog often. The fog prompted a conversation with God that I will never forget.
“Lord, I feel like that fog outside describes my life right now. I am in a fog. I have lost all sense of direction. I am not sure if I am facing the right way. I feel that I may be upside down or possibly right side up, I am confused. I am scared. I am wanting a better view.”
He was quick to answer with a question. God usually asks good questions. God prefers to teach us with these good questions than with dogmatic directives, though He is capable of that too.
“Stephan (He always calls us by our name), if you are the captain of your ship and you come across a patch of dense fog in unchartered territory, what would you do?”
“Well, I would do three things:
- I would slow the ship down.
- I would put my crew on high alert and lean on them.
- I would go to the bridge and be on alert and fully engaged.”
God then simply clarified for me what I was to do next. I needed simple and clear advice and He knew that.
“Stephan, I want you to do the following:
- I want you to put your life into maintenance mode…this is not the time to tackle new things, grow where you are planted, work but don’t overwork….slow down.
- Lisa (my wife) is your crew. I want you to lean on her, spend time with her, appreciate her presence, have a cup of coffee with the gift I have given you, take walks on the beach…enjoy this person I have placed into your life.
- Lastly, I want you engage with me. Enjoy my presence in your life. Read biographies about amazing men and women of faith, listen to worship, take walks with me, enjoy what it means to simply follow me.”
His advice is so simple yet so freeing. I think it’s important to remember these for other seasons of our life. How is the pace of my life, who are my crewmembers, how is my relationship with God practiced?
God then asked me a second question.
“Stephan, what burns the fog off?”
I answered and said, “Well, when the sun rises, it usually burns the fog off.”
God said, “Correct, I am the SON (and He apologized for the pun…He is funny even as He counsels us…I love that about God). You have DONE NOTHING to bring this fog upon you (I needed to hear that bad) and you will DO NOTHING to lift it (I also needed to hear that).
Finally, God asked me the third and final question
“Stephan, what happens when the fog is burned off?”
I simply said, “full steam ahead” and God was quick to say, “exactly.”
I remember the day the fog was lifted…it was unexpected but I knew God had just burned the fog off. The moment occurred over a breakfast several months later. I had done all God had suggested. I had slowed my life down, leaned on my wife and drew closer to my Lord and Savior. The season was a precious one and a difficult one. Looking back, I sense that I was battling with some form of depression. However, God was once again faithful in how gently and clearly He cared for me. Therefore, I ask you, “Are you in fog”? Perhaps God is simply asking you to slow the ship down, lean on your crew and draw close to Him. Let 2018 be the year that your fog is burned off and you are able to navigate the unchartered waters of your life with clarity and confidence because God is navigating.
Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.