out of the fog :: scooby doo, star gazing, and being fully alive

April 27, 2010

 

When I was a kid, my parents didn’t want us to watch Scooby Doo.  They thought it would leech our brain cells by its very nature:  predictable, ridiculous, low-brow, bad art.  They foresaw our IQ dropping steadily every Saturday morning, ultimately resulting in our academic failure at some institution of higher learning, thereby ensuring our demise in a life of ditch digging for minimum wage.

Well, mom and dad, I still like old-school Scooby Doo.  It’s predictability is therapeutic.  I am comforted by the fact that the scariest and most unexplainable of mysteries will always turn out to be the nefarious work of Old Man Carruthers with a rubber mask, some cleverly run speaker wire, and a reel-to-reel film projector.  And of course, he would have gotten away with his no-good tom-foolery if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.

Maybe it’s not the high art Buggs Bunny brings to the table, but it’s formulaic nature is entertaining in and of itself.  And among the many standard props of the trademark Scooby Doo mystery, you could always count on one element to add a sense of danger and uncertainty to the ambiance… FOG.

Fog obscures.  Fog prevents us from seeing clearly what lies ahead.  What lies around us.  Fog blankets the earth in a haze of uncertainly that makes us slow our cars and strain to see.  Fog blurs reality.

One of my favorite teachers and worship leaders, Tom Krauter, wrote a great book called “Living Beyond the Ordinary.”  He tells a story at the beginning of Chapter 17 about flying out of Salt Lake City on a sunny afternoon.  As he reached a certain altitude, everything suddenly became much clearer.  Colors were more vibrant.  Edges sharper.  The sky was radiant, and he realized for the first time that the urban environment he had been walking around in was obscured by a haze of city smog.  It blurred the lines and muted the colors in a subtle foggy haze… and he didn’t even realize it was there until he was lifted out of the haze and into the clarity of the clean air above.

FOG.  It’s a great metaphor for our hazy spiritual acuity.  Are you stumbling along, bumping your way through in a blur… or are you fully alive?  Fully awake?  Do you exist, or are you thriving?  Maybe you’ve been in the fog for so long, you don’t even recognize it anymore.  If you’re living a hazy life without focus, clarity, exuberance, Jesus wants you to wake up and rise above the haze.  John 10:10 says He came to give us LIFE to the FULL!  Why do we settle for fog?  Just getting by?  No way!  Reject good enough.  In Christ we have LIFE, purpose, identity, power… all the makings of an adventurous love affair life with God.

I live in the city – in the inner-ring Northwest suburbs of Minneapolis.  On a clear night I can easily make out the moon.  And about six stars.  In all of their glory.  The haze of the city mixed with the light pollution of a gazillion streetlights obscures my view, and the wonder of the cosmos is blended into an orangish gray blank slate, with just a few stubborn pinholes shining overhead.

But I grew up in the northern woods of Minnesota.  Eight miles north of Bemidji, where the houses and the lights are scattered few and far between among the tall pines and lakes of the north-land.  UP THERE, the depth of the star field is literally breathtaking.  I used to love to take the boat out at midnight, turn off the 110HP Mercury outboard, and float in the middle of Big Bass Lake… in the silence, on my back, looking up at into the sky above.  The band of the Milky Way could clearly be seen stretching like a stripe across the black.  If you focused on a blur of light, several stars in a cluster would pop into focus.  Planets.  Shooting stars.  And the Northern Lights dancing like green fire.  It was always there, but in the haze of city life, I couldn’t see it.

If you find yourself in a haze, barely awake to the LIFE that should be pouring out of you, it’s time to wake up and embrace the reality that has always been there.  Life to the full.

How do we break out of the fog?  How do we gain clarity?  Here’s a start:

(1)  Confront the reality that you need forgiveness.  If i’m walking around weighed down my sin – and patterns of behavior that I know don’t honor God – I need the cross again.  Right now.  The second I turn to the cross and ask Jesus for forgiveness, that burden is gone.  Forgotten.  Paid for by Jesus’ blood.  Take a moment and be honest with Jesus.  That’s ALWAYS step one…

(2) Recognize that busyness kills clarity.  If focus on the significant is like a laser beam, then busyness is a fog lampilluminating the haze.  Eugene Peterson, author of “The Message,” said “Busyness is the enemy of spirituality.  It is essentially laziness. It is doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing. It is filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attention to God’s actions. It is taking charge.”  Want a life of adventure?  Let go of control.  Clear the clutter out of your schedule.  Ask God what He is calling you to do.  Then do that.

(3) Recognize that comfort dulls the senses.  This is maybe one of the hardest pills to swallow as Americans.  We’re just so doggone COMFORTABLE.  I remember talking to my cousin one day.  It was still a few days to payday, and they were short enough on cash that they didn’t want to use any gas going to the store… so it was macaroni and cheese for dinner. Again.  And then suddenly, instead of complaining about their dire circumstances, he popped up from the table and declared, “C’mon kids!  We’re Americans!  We’ve got it great!  Let’s hit the pool!”  And they did.  That’s the reality for most of us.  As you read this with on your laptop and coffee in hand, you don’t have to worry about where you’re sleeping tonight or whether or not you’ll eat today.  That blessing of God that allows us SO MUCH comfort comes with a price.  It blankets urgency.  If you want to get out of the fog – live on the edge where the world around you comes into sharp focus – you have to climb out from under the blankets.  You have to be willing to be uncomfortable.  That’s where God’s working.  Where hurting people are.  They need hope… and maybe a meal.  That’s why it was both funny and so sad to hear Francis Chan at Exponential 2010 last week remark, “We have so many people called to where the rich people are.”

Want to break out of the fog?  Live fully alive with Jesus?  ASK for forgiveness.  REPENT of your busyness and focus on the eternally important.  GET UNCOMFORTABLE loving the dirty people, and God’s peace will replace the safety of your risk-less life.

Can you relate?  Are you living in the fog?

 

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out of the fog :: scoobydo, star gazing, and being fully alive" by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

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