He Shines

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5, NIV2)

The mass of warm air drifted in from the west coast. Under the cover of darkness, it approached the mountains. The steep slopes momentarily stopped the fronts easterly progress. More warm air moved in. The pressure built. The mass climbed the sides of the mountains. Within minutes, it slipped over the towering peaks and continued its eastward march across the Treasure Valley and the City of Boise. It covered the valley and trapped the cold air beneath it. A layer of fog formed between them.

In the morning, I slapped the snooze button several times, climbed from bed, showered, and made my way downstairs. The morning light was muted. I looked outside. The sky was a uniform gray. In the four months we'd lived in Idaho, we'd rarely seen clouds. The skies were always blue; the sun always shined; but not that morning.

I drove to work. The sun, which normally blinded me when it rose above the mountains, wasn't there. I took a walk at lunch. The cold, damp wind made me shiver.

The layer of fog in the sky seemed close enough to touch. The beautiful mountains were gone.

A week went by. On Monday morning, I went to work. The sky remained gray.

The temperatures hovered in the low thirties. "Mike?" My boss stepped up to my cubicle.

"Did you drive into the mountains last weekend?"


"You should have. It was 48 degrees and sunny up there."

"You're kidding?"

"Remember, I told you about the temperature inversions we get here?"

"Is that what this is?" I asked.

"This is it." He smiled. "It's cold and gray down here, but up there, the sun is shining and the temperatures are usually ten degrees warmer. We sweated in our ski suits last weekend."

"I'm jealous. How long does it last?"

"There's no telling. It can last days or weeks. We get them every winter."

Day-after-day, the sky never changed. I'd never seen so many shades of gray.

The warm air not only trapped the cold air, it trapped the pollutants too. The air grew stale. There was no escape for the air in the valley. It lay trapped between the mountains to the west and east and the warm air above.

The inversion lasted for more than three weeks. I was talking to my wife on my way home from work one evening and remarked, "I can't see a thing. The sun is in my eyes."

"What sun?" She asked.

There it was. The sun was back. "Ginny! It's the sun! I can't believe it!"

"We don't have sun here. The sky's gray."

In the distance, I saw the gray bank of fog. By the time I arrived home, I was back under its shadow again, but the next morning the skies were clear and the sun bathed everything with its warm glow. It was finally over.

It shocked me. On my way home, the sun was high in the sky. Before the inversion, the sun would slip below the horizon, as I drove home each night. After the inversion, the sun was still up, even when I arrived home. It was like time stood still for Boise. For three weeks, as the rest of the universe moved forward, we didn't move an inch. The fog cleared and we jumped forward to catch up.

The experience reminds me of people who pray when all is dark in their lives.

"God, where are you when I need you? Why can't I feel and see you?"

You can't see him, but he's there. The fog blinds. He shines. The fog burns off. His love warms. Behind the fog, like the sun, God does what he always does: he waits for you. God waits until you are ready to reach through the fog and seek him.

Are you experiencing an inversion? Don't worry. Have faith. You can't see him, but he shines.

Watch the video (Bogus Basin is the ski resort) in this news story to see what an inversion is: This is an inversion


Michael T. Smith

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