When Fog Rolls In

Clearing Fog, © 2015 Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2015 Lynn Abbott

In Southern California, they call it June Gloom.  And if you’ve ever booked a June vacation for the “sunny” beach in San Diego, you’ve probably come away disappointed.

You see, in June, the fog rolls in.  And the coast wears a gray cloak.

Perhaps, like me, your life at times has paralleled that foggy coastline.  Expectations for sunny days give way to weeping skies and poor visibility.

It was fourteen years after the death of my father when my mother was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. She not only was my best friend, but she had also lived with our family for 12 years.

When she died on a quiet– and yes, early June– Sunday afternoon, hazy light caressed the garden flowers that lean against our home’s external, brick and plaster.

Inside, however, a storm raged. I wrapped my arms around her, laid my head on her shoulder, and sobbed.

My son knelt in the doorway of her room. We were shattered. She was gone, and we knew we would not hear her laughter again for a very long time.
It seemed to me, that with her, laughter had died.

Clearing Fog (best), copyright 2015, Lynn Abbott Studios with watermarkAnd fog rolled.

My thoughts and feelings warred within me…I may be middle-aged, but I did not believe I could go on without both of my parents. The possibility was quite frankly incomprehensible.

Yet, not long after her death, an intermission from personal tragedy arrived just in time. And through a burst of sunny humor, Abba introduced hope.

Indeed, I distinctly remember the winter day when merriment broke through the heavy blanket of seemingly, interminable gray.  For me, it marked a slow but steady clearing.

In the stillness of that humid, misty afternoon, I stepped up the hill to our rural mailbox. Upon opening the box, I peered into the darkness. At the back, I spied a couple of bills, and a few pieces of advertising.

As I casually flipped through the stack, one advertisement arrested my attention. When I saw that it was addressed to my mother, the familiar ache flooded over me.

But much to my surprise, emblazoned on the envelope sent by a local pharmacy, were the words: “Carol, we want you back! Here’s $100 in gift cards to prove it.”

My mouth began to twitch. With my index finger, I traced the words, “Carol, we want you back!” And I laughed.

You see, they are NOT the only ones…

I do believe, however, that it will require a more miraculous offer than the $100 gift certificates to persuade Mom to return.

Even so, Abba used humor to clear some of June’s residual gloom.

Laughter.  That’s right.  My grandmother always used to say that it was good for the soul.

Maybe, you are in desperate need of a little levity in your life as well.  Heartbreak closes in like August pea-soup blanketing the Golden Gate Bridge.Clearing Fog (best), copyright 2015, Lynn Abbott Studios with watermark

It could be that you grieve the death of a dearly loved one.  Or perhaps, you are walking the lonely road of divorce.

It might be that you have moved far from your support system.  Or somehow, your support system has somehow let you down.

And suddenly, you stumble in the cold, blinding fog.

June gloom.

Isaac and Abraham probably felt this same foggy chill after Sarah died.  But, as was the case with my mother, there was no getting Sarah back.

She was gone, and Abraham and Isaac were left to cope with their grief.

I suspect that in light of his beloved wife’s death, Abraham began to consider his own mortality.

And in fact, Sarah’s death appears to have been the impetus for Abraham’s decision to arrange a marriage for Isaac, (Genesis 24).

Like most parents, Abraham probably worried about Isaac’s well-being, and considered the impact of the inevitable:  Abraham’s earthly life had an end date. Thus,  Abraham began to plan for Isaac’s future.

While scripture doesn’t tell us much about Isaac’s relationship with his parents, I suspect he was very close to both of them.  Sarah likely doted on Isaac, her miracle from God.

But it doesn’t appear that Isaac was spoiled.  Perhaps, his older half-brother Ishmael prevented Isaac from ever becoming too sure of himself.  I dunno.

But one thing is certain:  Isaac had great faith.

I’m quite convinced of it.

After all, some Bible scholars suggest that Isaac was approximately 30 years old when Abraham faced his greatest test.

Think of that…

It kinda puts the whole command, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love and go… Sacrifice him…” in a different light.

If Isaac were approximately 30 years old, then, Abraham was 130 years old.  Without a doubt, Isaac could have overpowered his father when the time came for the sacrifice.

And Isaac could have justified doing so since human sacrifice was not sanctioned by Yahweh.  I’m sure that God’s command puzzled both Abraham and his son.

Previously, Abraham had regularly tried to use human understanding to work out God’s commands and promises.

Yeah, Abraham had come a long way since Ur.

He had truly learned to trust God even when God’s ways didn’t make human sense; even when gray haze made it difficult to discern Yahweh’s will.

Of course, when Isaac asked his father about it, Abraham replied that God would supply the lamb.

Apparently, Isaac also trusted Abba to provide.

Yet, like Job, Abraham and Isaac both were able to say, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him…” (Job 13:15a).

Such was their trust in Abba’s loving, gracious sovereignty.

Of course, we know the end of the story.  God supplied a ram for the sacrifice.  Isaac provided an Old Testament picture of the One who would ultimately lay down His life for us.

Isaac’s faith and obedience, however, demonstrate his extraordinary love for Abba.

Nevertheless, his cherished mother died.

Faith does not make one immune to deep heartbreak.  In this world, we all face grief and pain.

Clearing Fog (best), copyright 2015, Lynn Abbott Studios with watermarkThe inevitable gloom.

But God’s grace and love burn through.

Isaac certainly mourned the loss of his mother.  Yet, in Isaac’s story,  you and I garner hope.

That’s right.  God not only cares about our “daily bread,” but He also cares about our emotional needs.

Likely, most of us would breathe “amen” to that.  However, when we encounter thick fog, we frequently try to negotiate a way out on our own.

I know that I forget to run into my heavenly Father’s throne room with my heart needs.

I think, “I can handle this.  I simply need to endure.”

And so, I pray for health needs.  I also pray for the basics like food and shelter.

But when my heart is breaking, I face my pain with stoic determination.

I suspect I’m not the only one who does this.

Scripture, however,  reminds us that God is near to the brokenhearted; He saves them.  And that He also heals them, (Psalm 34:18 and  147: 3).

In other words, I can ask Abba to supply my emotional as well as my physical needs.  It’s as simple as that.

And if doubt about our heavenly Father’s compassion still remains, Isaac’s story clears any remaining uncertainty. Genesis 24 demonstrates that Abba cares about every detail.

Abraham had learned that Yahweh cared about every aspect of his life.  So, he identified Isaac’s need and looked for God’s perfect provision.  In Genesis 24:1, Abraham enlists the help of his chief servant.

However, in Abraham’s request, you and I glean a key biblical truth:  God does not contradict Himself.

Grace does not violate God’s law.  Rather, God himself fulfills the law on our behalf so that He might give us abundant grace.

God’s covenant with Abraham had included a promise and a call.  As a result, Abraham walked away from paganism and moved to the land that God had promised.

Thus, although Abraham wished for his son to marry, he also understood Isaac’s ultimate destiny.   Isaac had been set apart for God.  Through Isaac would come the promise.

For this reason, God’s choice for Isaac would not lead him away from God or from God’s promises.

And so,  Abraham sent his chief servant on a journey to Mesopotamia to find a wife for Clearing Fog (best), copyright 2015, Lynn Abbott Studios with watermarkIsaac from among Abraham’s relatives.

Isaac would not go since he must remain in the land that God had pledged to Abraham and his offspring.

Abraham gave his servant an extraordinary commission.  To persuade a young woman and her family that she should move a great distance to marry a young man that they had never met was quite a challenge.

It would take a very special lady, indeed.  And Abraham obviously placed great trust in both God and his servant.

Having lived with Abraham for many years, the chief servant had great authority.

Thus, he gathered gifts and took 10 camels with him to transport the customary gifts intended for the bride’s family.  And such gifts were sure to impress.  Abraham had become a wealthy man.

But more importantly, Abraham’s faith had impacted his household.

In his quest for a bride for Isaac, the chief servant prayed for Yahweh’s wisdom and guidance, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham,” (Genesis 24:12).

Then, he asked God to lead him directly.  His master Abraham had modeled faith and obedience.

Trust in Abba, then, defined the search for Abba’s perfect will. Abraham’s servant asked God for wisdom.

And just as He promises to do for you and me, God honored that prayer (James 1:5).

When beautiful Rebekah came to the well that day, Abraham’s servant asked her for a drink of water.  After she kindly gave him water, she also offered to water the camels.

God answered specifically, (Genesis 24:14).

As the servant spoke with further with Rebekah, he discovered that she was, in fact, one of Abraham’s relatives.

And it’s significant to note that when he told Rebekah’s parents how God had led him to meet Rebekah, they said, “This is from the LORD…” (Genesis 24:50).

Obviously, Rebekah’s parents knew Yahweh.   God’s chosen bride for Isaac came from a place of faith.

Finally, when given the choice, Rebekah willingly accepted the marriage proposal, and traveled to Canaan.

It gets better.

Genesis tells us that Isaac went out in the field one evening to meditate.  He likely prayed there regularly.  On that particular evening, he looked up and saw Rebekah’s caravan.

Yes, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” (Psalm 34:18).

Genesis 24 concludes with the following simple summary: “So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death,” (Genesis 24:66).

Of course, our heavenly Father is not a celestial vending machine.  Rather, He provides for us in His way and in His perfect time.

Thus, as we wait, we follow Abraham’s example of faith; we trust  Abba to supply even when we cannot see clearly.

Clearing Fog (best), copyright 2015, Lynn Abbott Studios with watermarkYou and I learn to trust even in the fog.

After mom died, I tried to pick my way through the heavy cloud cover.

Laughter via my mailbox, however, reminded me that Abba cared for both my mother and me.

In our disappointments,  grief,  loneliness or pain, Abba walks with us.

Of course, my mom is irreplaceable.

However,  Abba has filled my heart needs.  In His way and time.

Meditating in the field as you and I wait for His provision, we can’t always see the comfort our heavenly Father plans for us.

Nevertheless, we ask in faith.

Indeed, when the time is right, you and I see His light and love burn through the foggy gloom.

Abba provided for Abraham and Isaac; He has promised to provide for you and me (Philippians 4:19) .

Bruised and broken, we run to Him.  And in childlike faith, we cry, “Abba, Father.”

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds,”  Psalm 147:3