I grew up and started teaching in the Central Valley where the Tule fog would sneak in every winter. It is insidious. Tule fog is different from coastal fog, which rolls in off the ocean and often leaves a small layer of breathing and visual space. Not so Tule fog. It rises from the moisture of the earth itself, ground up, and sometimes becomes so thick that you can’t see ten feet in front of you.
On days of thick fog, schools would start two or more hours later, hoping the fog would burn off enough so that the buses could safely make their routes. Drivers would have to hug the right fog lines and inch their way toward intersections they knew should be somewhere around there. I remember chaperoning a Winter Formal one year in extremely thick fog. Cars would be pulled to the side of the road, emergency flashers going, and teen girls would be running ahead in their formals and heels in search of the traffic light in order to tell their date how much further they had to go. I also remember one playoff football game, which had started under clear skies but by halftime the fog had obliterated so much of the field that anything longer than a ten yard pass was impossible to see. And the cold. I don’t think I have ever been colder than when I was watching a soccer game one foggy day. Though the thermometer might have registered 40 degrees, the dampness of the fog just seeped into my bones, making me miserable.
With this type of fog there is also much danger. The air is unhealthy as pollutants get trapped. Country intersections, void of any type of light, are ripe for fatalities. Freeway collisions end up being massive pileups. Even local drivers, familiar with the area, can become disoriented. Overall, fog causes confusion.
What is ironic is that only two hundred yards or sometimes just two hundred feet up, the sky is perfectly clear. Sometimes on a foggy Saturday, our family would drive up toward Kings Canyon National Park. It wouldn’t take long before we would break through that seemingly impervious wall of fog and into the brilliant sunshine. Then we would pull off to the side of the road and look back at what seemed to be an ocean of clouds underneath which we knew lay towns and cities all across the valley.
Many times we find ourselves in a spiritual fog. Disorientation. Confusion. Danger. Satan would love us to live in the fog. But not God. He is not the “author of confusion but of peace.” (I Cor. 14:33) Just as the Highway Patrol will often take ten to twenty cars at a time through the densest fog until they reach safety, so our "God will will hold [our] right hand, saying to [us], 'Fear Not; I will help you.'” (Isaiah 41:14) We need to remember that if we find ourselves in a spiritual fog, not to despair. Clear skies are usually close by. We just need to follow the One who can lead us there.