FACING THE ELEMENTS
By Rayola Kelley
When I read about creation in Genesis 2:6, I pondered the fact that a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground. This may not seem significant but there was no rain at the time. From my study it appears that this vapor enfolded the land. I can’t imagine that this mist was so thick that it was not transparent, or that it left a heavy dew that constantly clung to the countryside, or that it created a haze, smog or steam.
I have been around places where I felt the water mist as it sprayed out of spigots on flowers and vegetables in supermarkets. For the most part the water hit their targets but if you are close by you can feel the spray as well. In the summer it is refreshing, but in the winter, it is not such a welcome experience. However, the point is that the mist was something that could be experienced.
To understand the mist, we have to go back to the beginning when the Lord called the firmament into being. Keep in mind He framed the worlds with the Word of God and John 1:1 tells us Jesus is the Word. According to Colossians 1:14-18 we are told that through Jesus’ blood redemption was secured for us and that He is also the One who created all things seen and unseen. It establishes that He is the head of the church, the beginning, the firstborn from the dead (resurrection), and that in all things Jesus might have the preeminence. Preeminence points to supremacy, dominance, and superiority.
In 1 Corinthians 8:6, we are given an important summary, “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” We know that it is because it was within the heart and plan of the Father to bring forth all creation for His glory, but it is because of Jesus bringing forth creation according to the Father’s plan that all things exist. In fact, all things are held together by His Word. We know that the Father’s plans were ordained and stamped, that Jesus’ work in relationship to creation was perfect, and that the Holy Spirit garnishes Jesus’ work with finishing touches, making it complete (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13).
To bring this relationship between the three persons of the Godhead in light of creation down to layman’s terms, the Father is the architect, Jesus the builder, and the Holy Spirit does the finishing work to complete it. Jesus carried out the whole plan of creation laid out by the Father, including the Church, and carried out every detail set forth in the design, and now the Holy Spirit is bringing it to fruition.
The first thing God spoke into being was light (Genesis 1:3-5). Light penetrates and reveals darkness. It brings about contrast because man would not know light without darkness being present, and would not discern the darkness without the light. Keep in mind there are different level of darkness.
There are the shadows of compromise and confusion that is highlighted by the presence of light, the outlines on the landscape of uncertainty when the limited light of the moon shines, the twilight of ignorance that falls on the minds of men, the intense, thick spiritual darkness that covers the soul, and the tormenting darkness of hell itself that drives a man’s spirit into complete depravity and insanity.
We know the sun was given to highlight the glory of God in His creation, and the shadows remind us of the areas where the life of Christ has not yet been allowed to take root. The twilight represents the fact that as long as we are in these bodies, we see through a glass darkly, and when it comes to spiritual darkness, we are tasting a bit of the tormenting darkness of hell as well to bring about a right attitude (1 Corinthians 13:12).
It seems that the mist and darkness sometimes walk hand in hand. In Acts 13:10-11 the hand of the Lord was upon a sorcerer by the name of Elymas. He was doing the bidding of the father of lies, Satan, perverting the right way. As a result, it was pronounced upon him that he would be struck blind for a season. Upon hearing the words, immediately a mist and a darkness fell on him. He had to be led around by the hand.
As we can see, mist is also associated with judgment. In 2 Peter 2:17 we are told this about those who sell their soul for wages of unrighteousness. “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.” These people lack real water but the mist about them is a darkness that moves, surrounds and eventually engulfs them.
Mist that is associated with judgment often manifests itself in some type of steam. Steam represents uncertainty and danger. However, how do you produce steam? You can take something that is already hot and you pour water on it, or you can boil water until it steams. Take volcanic activity, it clearly expresses itself in steam. You know the heat will consume, the fire will burn, the volcanic flow will destroy everything in its path, and the sulfuric smell will be like hell itself causing one to choke.
When it comes to the soul it can also be like a seething cauldron that can cause men to become a destructive source to others. The cauldron is often anger, mixed with the heat of bitterness, the fire of betrayal and injustices, and the stench of hatred. It can erupt with a vengeance, flow with immense intensity to destroy, and end up consuming everything in its path. This is why we are instructed to not let the sun go down on our anger. It is not that anger is a sin in itself; rather, if allowed to fester in the darkness, the right mixture of personal rights, feelings, and emotions will douse it enough to set off the destructive steam that can prove to be like the tormenting darkness of hell. According to Scripture, hell has its sights, sensations, fires, and smells (Matthew 5:22; 10:28; 13:42; Mark 9:42-48; Luke 16:19-31; Ephesians 5:15-18).
As believers, we are not to be children of darkness (Ephesians 5:8). We are not to prefer its evil ways, justify wicked practices, and live in its hopeless state. We must not settle for darkness to encompass us like a mist, nor must we be content with shadows that cover our spiritual weaknesses, mere outlines when we are meant to see the intricate beauty of God’s glory around us, and worldly insight when we have been given the eyes of faith to walk in light of His Word. We must never allow spiritual darkness to rest upon our soul when we have the light to escape such darkness and avoid teetering on the abyss of utter destruction when we have been offered the hope of salvation through Christ’s redemption.
This brings us to the firmament which is an expanse of the sky. The Lord’s spreading out of the sky allows separation to begin. As a believer, the Lord has always been expanding various aspects of my character, my focus, my faith, and my life in Him. First of all, He has been expanding my character through testings. Each test reveals that my character is flawed. In many cases my strength proves to be my great weakness because my dependency falls on what I know, what I can do, and what I can accomplish instead of the Lord. On the other hand, my weaknesses prove to become my strong points because I must rely on the Lord to be the source of my strength to carry out what is before me. At such times I am humbled and not assuming, uncertain and not presuming, cautious and not overconfident (2 Corinthians 3:5; 12:5-12).
It was after the expansion that the Lord divided the waters from above the firmament and below it (Genesis 1:6-10). Without the water there would be no mist. It is clear that water was another important ingredient for life, but it had to be tempered in order to function in a cycle that would replenish God’s creation. It had to be contained within borders (land) to avoid continual flooding, it had to be channeled to ensure growth, and it had to be kept pure to ensure the replenishment of the body, the cleansing of the soul, and the revival of the spirit.
As believers we have been given the rivers of Living Water, the Holy Spirit. He is the mist within our soul, the river from below that flows up through our spirit to bring forth fruit, and the water from above that baptizes us with power. It is the Holy Spirit who regenerates our spirit, tempers our soul so that our lives can bring forth fruit, cleanses and refreshes the inner man, and sanctifies our life to bring glory to the Lord. The fountain He springs forth from brings salvation, His flowing ways lead to truth, and His abiding presence opens the way to the abundant pastures in God’s Word for us to feed upon (John 7:37-39; 16:7; Acts 1:4-8; Galatians 5:22-23; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 John 2:27).
We are to walk as children of light (1 Thessalonians 5:4-10). This will ensure our fruits will be attractive, nourishing, and abundant. There are two types of fruits: the fruit of the Spirit and the fruits produced in the harvest field. The fruit of the Spirit will reflect the life of Christ, drawing people to Him. The fruit in the harvest field will be souls that encounter the work of the Lord through His Spirit and saints that will produce fruit unto eternal life (John 4:34-38; 15:1-8; Galatians 5:22-23).
To walk in the light means we walk according to the Word of God (Psalm 119:105). However, it is important to point out that the Word illuminates our steps and not the landscape. We can trust that it is leading us up paths of righteousness, but at times the darkness of the unknown is all about as uncertainty nips at our heels with temptation to either flee the path at the next crossroad, take chances by running ahead of the light, or going back to the darkness of the old where one will live in a type of morbid reality of hopelessness.
I, for one, want to be in pace with the light of God’s Word. I know I must keep my eyes on the light, regardless of how bright and far reaching it is. The Word will temper my walk to remain within the plan and work of God, instill in me patience so I can possess my soul, and maintain my faith to see a matter to completion (Luke 21:19; Hebrew 6:12).
The Holy Spirit is also that unseen vapor that is represented by our breath. Water is very much in the air and we actually exhale water that comes from our lungs. It is clear that air propels water. We know that breathing is the main evidence that there is life in us. We take in breath to live and we exhale breath to exhume impurities and be able to interact with our environment.
James 4:14 asks what is your life, but a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Man’s life in this world is greatly limited by the environment he must interact with. It is an environment that has been cursed and the shadow that looms over it is death. It is where the earthly is temporal and it takes the breath of heaven to bring forth the eternal seed of life that was planted in the spirit of the individual and cultivated in the soul by the Spirit.
One either has this life or is void of it but there is no one that can create, really imitate, or fake this life. It soars on heavenly currents above the claims of the world, speaks of that which is eternal, is marked by what is excellent, and manifests itself in the extraordinary.
The vapor again points to that breath that comes forth. In the heat of the day, you can hear it, in the winter you can see it, in the fall you can experience it in the changing environment, and in the spring, you can feel its refreshing qualities. It is all around you, being taken from without, flowing within, and being once again released to be consumed by the unseen cycle of life.
This brings us to the mist of fog. Fog occurs when the warmer ground temperature collides with colder air temperature. In a sense it creates its own weather fronts. The fog can settle in a small area or it can captivate a whole countryside. It has different levels of intensity in operation that can challenge you in various ways as you make your way through it.
As Christians we have many different weather fronts to deal with; however, when it comes to spiritual fog it presents its own challenges. This cloudy mist has always fascinated me. In the right environment it creates a suspenseful mood that reminds me of a movie where the bad guy could jump out at any moment, but on the other hand it can lay like graceful curtains at the edge of canyons and rivers to bring a type of beauty that can cause awe.
The truth is fog can be made up of various curtains. Some are white clouds that create a type of wonderland, but as you enter into them, they can become gray. They may allow you to see some of the landscape, while at others times they only allow you to see just feet ahead, and in dangerous situations you may not see even a foot in front of you.
Once you head into the fog it can part like a curtain, but at the same time it has a clever way of directing the light. It may fragment the light in different directions, often perverting what you are seeing as you look into it. The more you challenge the fog the more you realize it is temporary and that it will soon give way to the penetrating light of the sun.
As a believer the one thing that causes fog in my spiritual life is inconsistency in my spiritual walk. The fruit of inconsistency is confusion. Confusion points to indecision. For Christians, confusion means their flesh could be warring with their spirit as they are wavering in their faith, second guessing what they are to do because nothing is making sense, and wrestling with their now mounting options. They find themselves becoming double-minded as the weather of their spiritual life turns foul as the fog thickens.
The reason for this battle is that our journey towards God starts from some emotional zeal where we feel infallible enough that from our peak of self-sufficiency, we perceive we see things clearly and have the necessary commitment and endurance to see our vision, religious notion, or calling come to fruition. However, as we get closer to the challenge or circumstance of a matter, the zeal begins to lift, and we are left with the uncertainty of what our journey will ultimately cost us in the end.
As we enter the fog of confusion, we feel ourselves teetering on the abyss of destruction as our focus is diverted away from what we started out knowing to uncertainty that we are even in the right way. We often take a detour to the nearest plateau as we wrestle with the problem on a logical level and not a Biblical one. We seek advice from those who will placate our knowledge and not from wisdom above. We say we want the truth, but not the absolute truth of God’s Word that can’t be somewhat watered down or adjusted to fit our mood or secret desires.
It is on plateaus of misty flats that we can find some peace and relief as we parlay with worldly compromise, justify fleshly ways, and console ourselves that at least we tried. However, the truth is we didn’t try; rather, we surrendered to the confusion instead of walking in and through the fog. Faith towards God is what allows us to endure the fog, the Word of God is what keeps us on the right track, and a sincere love for God is what motivates us forward until the Sun of Righteousness parts the curtains of confusion.
We definitely live in a dark time but my concern is that Christians on the last leg of their race, will fail to trust God to enable them to walk through mist of darkness, trust Him to lead them through the fog, and be assured that He alone will bring them to the finish line of eternity. We need to remember, just as our life is a vapor, likewise fog is a vapor that in due time will lift, allowing us to see the beauty of God’s work on the landscape of our soul.