Yesterday I was way too interested in watching a bunch of garbage blow around in the strong wind moving through our back yard. Amid the fudge pop wrappers and flattened Amazon boxes, my attention was caught by a couple of cereal boxes, neatly collapsed for the recycle bin whose hatch was blown wide open by gusts beyond the design specs. And there he was: the Honey Nut Cheerios bee (Buzz Bee) flying free past our swing set and into the field out back. Fly free, deadly marketing creature.
It made me think about the imagery of wind used throughout scripture. Wind is a fascinating phenomenon. Created by God, wind is the charged adjustment of weather systems as they work their way across the globe. Wind brings with it new temperatures, puffy clouds, and the occasional strong storm. Wind always accompanies change. Wind is a byproduct of change. OR wind is a generator of change. Either way (was the chicken or the egg first?)* the two go hand in hand.
There are three different spots in the bible where wind shows up as the teacher of a deeper truth: The Ark, The Ask, and The Action.
You may know the story of Noah and the Ark. Huge flood, old guy Noah builds a big boat, animals load up, destruction follows, rescue and rainbow. The waters covered the earth to a level that the people and land animals couldn’t ignore (most of the fish were fine with it). Just about the time Noah and the animals wondered if the water would ever recede, we read in Genesis 8:1 that “God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.” The Ark gives us our first reminder: the wind of God does the work of God.
God is at work in our world, whether we realize it or not. Most of the time, wind goes largely unnoticed by me. I didn’t think about it being windy last week, but I sure did notice that all the leaves in the lawn. It wasn’t an earthquake that dropped those leaves — it was the mostly unnoticed yet remarkably effective wind. In our world, we may not detect that God is at work, but we can detect the effects of his work all around us. In every moment of healing, in every answered prayer, in every mysterious peace that covers a difficult situation like a warm blanket… these testify to the work of God — perhaps undetected, but certainly effective.
Our world is looking everywhere for some kind of wisdom, usually masquerading as life hacks and self improvement posts. My Instagram feed includes some guy who dispenses helpful advice about boundaries, trauma, and relationship issues. His tone is warm, his hands usually have a mug of tea, and his eyebrows are like friendly caterpillars inviting you into his world. Human beings are knowledge and wisdom sponges. We are desperate for something to help us find our way. Where did I come from? Why do I exist? What am I supposed to do? In our search for direction, we find all different flavors of wisdom, some godly and some not, and do our best to press on without getting cancelled or giving up entirely. Life is not easy.
God knows we need wisdom, and so he offers it in abundance, ready to be dispensed upon the ask. Need wisdom? Just ask! However, as James says… “But when you ask (for godly wisdom), you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). God’s wisdom comes with a disclaimer, not unlike a software agreement that we might mindlessly check off on the way to a new app. When we ask, believe that you’ll get what you’re asking for. Why is this? Probably because it will sound absolutely insane compared to the way of the world. Of course we should ask! But when we ask, we must believe. Otherwise — and here is the wind to teach us — we will be like a wave of the sea, pointlessly tossed about. The wisdom of God, freely available and most effective when combined with authentic faith, puts purpose to our otherwise pointless lives.
When Jesus Christ walked the earth, he spoke regularly about the Kingdom of God — a kingdom of healing, wisdom, grace, love, and truth. Not only did he reveal God the Father to us, he also helped us understand the work of the Holy Spirit. He used the mysterious power of the wind to help us understand what it means to be born again. We are born of the Spirit and find ourselves suddenly moved by a force that moves us in mysterious ways. The Christ-centered life is a life fueled by the wind of the Spirit. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Jesus said:
“The wind 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” (John 3:8).
The stack we’ve built is intentional. Remember that God gets work done with wind, as seen in the story of the Ark. Remember that wisdom is readily available when we ask, BUT our faith has to be strong enough that we believe, otherwise we’ll be tossed about in the wind (like garbage in my back yard). Remember that the Spirit of God IN us means that we are powered by this wind: moving forward, walking wisely, and moving toward the Kingdom of God.
Windy days have much to teach us. So, let me ask you: are you aware that God is at work? Are you asking for wisdom and believing you’ve got it? Are you filled with the mysterious wind of the Spirit?
Thankfully Mac went out and re-threw away the cardboard boxes. Branches are blown down and someone online said that they suddenly have a barbecue grill cover in their yard (and no grill). Wind is powerful. May we become more like Jesus every day… for there is much to be done.
*I bet it was the chicken. Why would God create an egg for Adam & Eve to sit on?