Above the fog, a glimpse of glory

In August 2016, my wife and I found ourselves in one of our favorite places on earth, Montana’s Glacier National Park. The mountains always awaken my sense of wonder, my sense of awe at the beauty, the grandeur — and the surprise — in God’s creation.

Glacier sunrises are not to be missed, so we always plan accordingly. On this morning, we left our cabin at 5:30 a.m. and drove west on Going to the Sun Road, the spectacular highway that bisects the park. From what seemed to be a clear predawn at the cabin, we imagined a spectacular sunrise from Logan Pass, the road’s pinnacle 18 miles and 2,000 vertical feet ahead. A mile or two from the top, we noticed there wasn’t the usual predawn light. Then we realized why. The entire pass was fogged in. We drove the final mile able to see only about 50 feet in front of the car.

The empty parking lot and Swiss chalet-styled visitors center at Logan Pass were barely visible. The only sound was a cold, wet wind swirling around us that didn’t seem to be moving the clouds one bit. Far below us, the sun was rising. Up here, dim-gray light revealed … nothing.

But as the fog swirled and our eyes became accustomed to the gloom, we started noticing things that would have been slower to reveal themselves in the midday sun. A mountain goat sauntered across the parking lot. Near a stand of pine trees, a barely-visible bighorn ram munched grass.

Then a warmer wind rose from the east, the St. Mary Valley. The clouds — still obscuring the pass — started to move in a singular direction, rolling across the pass and before taking a near-vertical drop into the McDonald Creek Valley to the west.

As the fog sunk, the sun’s horizontal rays caught just the top of Clements Mountain. Suddenly the towering peak, invisible just seconds ago, was bathed in golden light.

And then just as suddenly, it was gone again. All we could see was fog.

We hung out for a while longer as the mesmerizing scene repeated: thick fog moved along by the wind, fleeting glimpses of mountaintops, then back to murky nothingness.

By 8 a.m., the clouds had dissipated completely. Beneath an endless blue sky, the flow of traffic swelled. In the next couple of hours, the parking lot would fill. The area would teem with tourists who had no clue about the show they’d missed up here at dawn.

To me, fog-bound moments speak of hope – and of God’s faithfulness. We had been here before and we knew what was behind those clouds, whether or not we could see it at that moment. When the golden peaks would briefly come into view, the moment was transcendent, like an ever-so-brief glimpse of heaven beyond the usual fog.

Lauren captured one of those moments in a photo that now hangs in our living room. Little did we know at the time that we were approaching a season of thick fog, where every next step has to be taken in faith. Sometimes the fog clears momentarily … and then it comes right back.

But a wind is blowing. We’ve received enough glimpses above the fog to know we’re headed in a Godward direction. Whether we can see it or not, his glory is close at hand.

And that is enough.

Implications for storytellers

  • Remain in the murkiness long enough for your eyes to adjust. You will see things that others miss.
  • Observe prayerfully. Help others see God in places and situations where he isn’t readily evident.
  • Let those ever-so-brief glimpses of glory awaken your sense of wonder. Let them serve as reminders that God is close and active, even when our view is obscured.
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