Observing the Wind
As I sit on my side porch on this unusually cool May morning, a noticeable breeze is blowing through the trees swaying the tops and rustling in the leaves. I’m struck by the sound, almost as if the woods are a symphony with various sections playing softer, others more loudly, with each tree producing the sound of a unique instrument.
There is the occasional, intermittent chirp of a bird. Though, I imagine most of them are hunkered down with the thrashing taking place amongst the branches.
I normally would not notice all that is going on around me and above me unless I were paying attention, as I am now.
Friday’s have traditionally been my one day off out of seven over my pastoral life. I used to use Mondays off, yet as hard as I tried, I could not keep my mind away from the work of the upcoming week. As they say, “Sundays a comin’."
Sunday is always coming for the pastor who preaches. It is a high honor and privilege to speak to the congregation through a sermon, expositing and applying the glorious riches of God’s saving and sanctifying grace from every passage and in every message. But even a pastor needs mental rest in time away from they sometimes grueling intellectual, relational, and emotional labor required of his calling.
At some point in my ministry, I decided that if I could press on from Sunday through Thursday, completing the sermon, meeting with congregants, responding to correspondence, and tying up all the loose ends that are inevitably part of each week, that I would take Fridays as my Sabbath of sorts.
For years, it has worked for me. Friday is a day when I can just be. So here I am, outside on my porch surrounded by woods. Doing nothing except observing.
Just paying attention.
I hear the wind and I see the leaves moving, but I do not see the wind. I only detect the evidence of its influence.
Wind as Spirit
The Hebrew word for wind in the Old Testament is ruach. It also happens to be the word used for spirit. When coupled with “holy,” ruach becomes the Holy Spirit—not a thing but a person.
The Greek word for wind in the New testament is pneuma. Like the Hebrew ruach, It also happens to be the word used for spirit. When combined with “holy,” the pneuma is known as the Holy Spirit. Again, not a thing but a person, as in the third person in the Trinity, God the Father, Son, and Spirit.
In John 3:8, Jesus uses the analogy of wind to demonstrate the sovereign, unseeable but observable work of the Spirit in our lives.
“The wind (pneuma) blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit (pneumatos).”
Whenever we detect anything supernatural in this world, we can be sure it is not just the wind blowing. It is the Spirit working, whether the evidence is repentance, faith, humility, love, self-denial, joy, peace, patience, etc.
This is why, when my kids were young, we would encourage them when they did something “good.” The goal was not to build self-esteem but to share that it sure looked like the Holy Spirit was at work in their lives, because it is so unnatural for a human with a sinful nature to share, apologize, forgive, etc.
When those kinds of things are taking place—when those leaves sway in the trees of our lives—be encouraged and keep paying attention for Holy Wind, giving credit where it is due. Whether gentle breezes or strong gusts, it is the Spirit who is blowing.
He is saving.
He is convicting.
He is comforting.
He is renewing, restoring, healing, and transforming.
He is working.
If we can sit still long enough to pay attention, I think we’ll begin to savor and celebrate the symphony of grace being played in the breeze of God blowing all around us—for our good and joy, and to his glory.