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The fog of life

David Epps's picture

According to Wikipedia, “The ‘fog of war’ is a term used to describe the level of ambiguity in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations. The term seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding own capability, adversary capability, and adversary intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign. The term is ascribed to the Prussian military analyst Carl von Clausewitz, who wrote:

’The great uncertainty of all data in war is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight, which in addition not infrequently — like the effect of a fog or moonshine — gives to things exaggerated dimensions and unnatural appearance.’”

Some combat veterans have said that the best laid plans evaporate when the first shot is fired. In other words, things do not always go as planned.

Life is like that, too. One insurance company advertises that “life comes at you fast,” the implication being “faster than you planned.” Another insurance company has introduced the character “Mayhem” to illustrate that unexpected situations occur for which one may not be prepared and for which one may pay dearly.

While the official motto of the U. S. Marine Corps is Semper Fidelis (Latin for “always faithful”) an unofficial motto has also come into use. It is simply: Improvise, adapt, overcome.

When the fog of war occurs, fighting men are expected to take the fight to the enemy anyway. It may mean that the plans will have to change. The troops will have to make do with the situation as it is on the ground, will have to adjust the tactics to meet the new reality, and they will continue to press for victory. Whatever the fog may bring, defeat is not an option; they must still overcome.

When the fog of life sweeps in and unexpected setbacks occur — the loss of a job, a serious illness, the break-up of a family, the death of a loved one, the evaporation of investment accounts — one must make a decision.

To do nothing is to choose defeat. To do nothing should not be an option in the fog of life any more than it is a choice for soldiers who encounter the fog of war.

We must learn to improvise — to work with what skills and resources we have left, to change our goals and plans, to be flexible, to think in new ways.

We must also learn to adapt. It is what it is, this new reality. Moaning and whining will not change it. We must adapt in our thinking and in our behavior.

We must choose to be overcomers and not settle for mediocrity or for defeat.

In the mid-1980s, the church I served burned. The sanctuary was only a few years old and the church was in a growth spurt. Suddenly, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, we were “homeless.”

We knew, as leaders, how we responded might well determine whether the church stayed focused and strong or whether it would evaporate. Although we didn’t know the unofficial USMC motto at the time, we did do the right things. We improvised, we adapted, and we did overcome.

In fact, when we moved backed into the sanctuary after nine months, we had to go to two services because we had outgrown it! I have seen pastors publicly moan and groan their churches into oblivion and have seen people do the same with their lives.

The fog of war occurs. The fog of life happens. Deal with it. Improvise, adapt, and overcome. Or not. Defeat can always be the alternate choice.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese ( and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at]

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