Spring is in the air in Tennessee—or should I say in the wind! Even on 70 degree days, there are often gusts upwards of 40 mph. The horses turn their butts to it and brace against it. Our woolly sheep, however, simply go with the flow and keep eating like it’s just another day in Paradise. I laughed when I saw Josie lift her hoof as though being knocked off her feet. I desperately want to be like the sheep, but chances are good that I’ll act more like a horse’s…well, you know.
Let me explain.
Biblically speaking, the Hebrew word “rûah,” is understood to be a divine force that translates as "breath," “wind,” or “spirit,” depending on the context. For instance, in John 3:8, Jesus tells the Pharisee, Nicodemus: “The wind [rûah] blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (In this passage, Jesus is clarifying what it means to be born “from above.”) Although we can't see the wind, we can often hear it and see it's mysterious, powerful effects (on swaying trees, on the clouds, in swirling dust, for instance) as it runs its course in the natural world. So too, in the supernatural world, we can't see the actual movement of the Holy Spirit but we know when we (or others) have been powerfully "breathed on," for we (or they) show visible signs of being a new creation in Christ.
This metaphor of the Holy Spirit as "rûah" springs to life on our farm as our weathervane tracks the whooshing, ever-shifting winds and spins with dizzying speed. Clearly, the wind has a will of it’s own, a power of it’s own, an invisible, unpredictable, and immaterial nature. It’s no wonder that the Holy Spirit is likened to the wind, for He has all of those attributes and more. As God, His sovereignty is over all…and over me.
But here’s the thing about the wind—and us. Just as the wind has a will of its own, as human beings formed by God, so do we. Our free will is a gift from our Creator. That said, when our human will clashes with the will of the wind (the Holy Spirit), we can be sure things will eventually (or suddenly) turn dark and stormy. Think of two fronts of air that collide to form a violent thunderstorm or spawn a tornado. Conflict, within us and around us, is inevitable when we oppose the will of God. And what about those crazy clouds on a blustery day? The lower clouds race west while the higher clouds march east. We become confused as we stare at the sky…which way are the clouds moving? Which way am I? This unsettling feeling of being out-of-sync with God’s will and his plan for our lives is what happens when we insist on movin’ to our own groove.
Yes, the wind blows where it wills and we truly don’t know where it comes from or where it goes but thankfully, God inspired the Gospel writers to leave us simple instructions on how to “go with the flow" and become fully alive in Christ.
“The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
Whenever Jesus speaks, His words are one with the Father’s and empowered by the breath (rûah) of the Holy Spirit. The next time you’re feeling blown about by the winds of discontent, discord, destruction, confusion, or change, open your Bible. Find a word, a phrase, a passage, or a psalm that offers calm in the eye of the storm. Meditate on it. Live in that center. Yield to Truth. Let the Breath of the Word of God knock you off your stubborn feet. Then allow yourself to be caught up in that whirlwind of Love, Who is the Holy Spirit. Unpredictable, invisible, powerful, sovereign over all, let’s consent to His divine will for our lives and quit bracing against it like horses’…well, you know.
When we let ourselves be blown away by the Holy Spirit, we’re lifted aloft—above and beyond the bluster of our self-will—and carried on currents of grace that make surrender feel like freedom. I don’t know about you, but the thought of that sounds like a breath of fresh air—and Paradise to me. Here’s to being sheep in the flock of our Lord!