When God lifts the mist
I knew it was going to be a challenging walk but our mountain walk guide promised one of the most stunning views in all of Snowdonia from the peak of Creigiau Gleision. Reassuringly I was walking with Alan and Ken, two highly experienced walkers with impressive map reading skills. It only took us three attempts to find the correct way out of the car park at the end of llyn Crafnant. So we pressed on, undaunted. We met no one except, fortuitously, a worker with the Forestry Commission who gave invaluable advice on the path ahead. It was safe, she reassured us. By now, some 6 kms into the walk, we were nearing the summit and the going was tough. We followed a surprisingly well-maintained fence up one slope only to discover another, even steeper slope, awaited us. However, what kept us going was the prospect of the magnificent view ahead. Again I quote, from another source, “one of the most breath-taking views in all Snowdonia". Then battling against a strong wind, we arrived. And the photo above is what we saw! So we sat down in the shelter of a large rock and had our sandwiches, peering into the mist to our way ahead along the ridge to Crinpiau, the next of three summits along the ridgeline. However, suddenly the view cleared and we could see, if only for a moment the glorious view along the Crafnant valley. And that’s how the day went. Walking, for me not an easy walk, along the ridge and every so often the mist would clear to reveal a stunning view southwards over this part of wild Wales. You could pick out the A5 wending its way to Capel Curig with Blaenau Dolwyddelan in the distance. And then once again you were picking your way through the mist. It’s the . going downhill which gets me, essentially because I lack the confidence. But that’s life, certainly as a Christian. A daily trudge through the mist, picking your way through the rocks and doing your best not to stumble. Then all of a sudden the mist clears and you have a glimpse, sometimes more, of the wonders of the Kingdom of God. As the apostle Paul writes, the Message translation giving a fascinating interpretation of his famous words in 1 Corinthians 13: “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! In other words, we keep going even though we cannot see more than a few steps ahead – for that is all we need to see. Again to quote Paul: “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Typically the Message translation puts a spin on this verse, quite a long one in fact. “That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.” “Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.”
(2 Corinthians 5:7). Life is tough and then the Lord gives us a break, even a glimpse of the way ahead and more, the glorious future which awaits not us but the entire created order. So the apostle may rejoice: “In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us.’ (Romans 8:18 JBP translation) And Paul had to go through a lot. It wasn’t that Jesus promised him, promises us, an easy ride. Life is often a difficult downhill trudge. But he promises to be with us, helping us pick our way through the rocks and ruts. As I read only this morning:, “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.’ (Psalm 18:33). I may lack the confidence to pick my way down in the mist but we can claim God’s wonderful promise to a probing prophet “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:19) And God gives us people to walk with us, to support and guide us, especially when there is barely a path and sometimes not a footing. Ken kept an eye on me as I gingerly made my way downhill. Walking with Alan and Ken, we only got lost once – and so we took a while to stop and carefully work out where we were, which summit we were actually standing on. The only time I was really nervous was when they both said: “We’re 100% certain we are on the right path!” For life isn’t a series of decisions following the clear yellow sign markers along a maintained path. There are times we need to stop and find our orientation, even as the mist descends once again. And there’s always a risk – hence my wariness of 100% certainty. You’re never quite sure until you get there. And we did get there, back to the car park. This time we knew the right way in.