February 24, 2012

Like a Mighty Wind

When I was growing up, we lived in an area of southern Alberta that often experienced Chinook winds. The air started moving on the west coast, rose up over the Rocky Mountains often dumping moisture on the west side. Then they came into our province warm and dry, raising temperatures — and in the winter, melting snow. Sometimes conditions were just right so that leaves or small blowing objects picked up the snow and rolled it into snowballs. While a rare sight, I remember waking up one morning to see these balls all over our yard. They varied in size, the largest maybe 8-10 inches across.

Wind is a part of nature and common everywhere. When air is warmed by the sun it rises and moves. When a high pressure area is near a lower pressure area, the air moves to fill the space. Meteorologists have learned a great deal about wind since the days that Jesus walked this earth. Nevertheless, wind is still a bit of a mystery.
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
Jesus makes a point. He wants His listeners to know that the work of the Holy Spirit is not predictable. That is, we might know He is doing something, and we might know what He can do, but we cannot pin down a time or place, or even the people to whom He will give new life.

In John 3, Jesus tells a religious man that to be saved from sin, he must be “born again.” This term has been misused and abused, but it is still valid. Christians experience what the Bible calls regeneration. That is, the Holy Spirit grants spiritual life to those who have been spiritually dead, separated from God by their sin and not aware of spiritual realities. This life is from God, given through faith in Jesus Christ, and it never ends.
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:11–13)
This life comes to us like a wind. It cannot be seen, nor, as in those days, predicted. Yet those who have it know that something new has happened to them. Jesus clearly says that this life begins with faith — it is not something that waits until we die. These verbs are present tense.
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24)
Other parallels to wind could be made. The Spirit is powerful, like a hurricane even. He is also gentle and comforting, like a cool breeze on a hot day. He brings refreshing rain, yet sometimes blows in what we might call debris as our lives are tested. He will even dry up our tears as the Chinook dries up the snow.

Father, I am thankful for the illustrations in Your Word that help me get a more vivid picture of the work You do in my life and the lives of others. This one about the wind instructs me to avoid trying to predict Your actions. I know that You can bring new life to others, and that is all that I need to know, leaving the who, when and where to You.

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