“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape…You don’t spit in the wind…You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger…And you don’t mess around with Jim.”
(“You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” by Jim Croce)….Jim, you left us much too soon!!!
Ever tried that…spitting into the wind? Usually doesn’t end well, does it? Although I have never actually tugged on Superman’s cape, I suppose that would not end well, either. I have always loved that song, and one of the things that sticks out to me, is that three of the lines (above) refer to some tough guy that you don’t want to tangle with. But the other one is not about a man at all, but it is just as much about a powerful force to be reckoned with.
As I looked at the many individual aspects of God’s creation in preparation for writing the book, “Unlocking Creation”, one sort of stood out from the rest…the wind. It was unique in that it was not something you could actually see, but you could surely see (or feel) it’s effects. I can see the sun, while watching a sunrise or a sunset. I can stand in awe as I look upon the mountains, gaze out upon the sea, or as I am mesmerized by a million stars on a moonlit night. But when was the last time you heard someone say, “C’mon, let’s take a ride out to the countryside and watch the wind blow.” Umm..no..probably not. I can’t remember anyone ever doing that…not once…why would you?
But, of course, you can stand outside on a blustery day and know it’s there, especially if you have a lot of hair (certainly not my problem) or if you wear a hat (that’s more like me). You can even stand inside on a windy day, look out the window (unable to feel it) and see it’s effect on the trees and other things around you. But you cannot see the wind, itself. No one has.
Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes…” [ John 3:8 ESV]
My best friend for most of my life and the “Best Man” at my wedding thirty eight years ago, Rick Arenschield, recently retired from our regional electric company, First Energy, where he spent many years as a dispatcher…calling out the crews who respond to storm damage and power outages. You most certainly would not have to tell him what damaging winds can do. He spent countless long nights and early mornings dealing with what wind leaves behind. It’s fair to say he’s got a good grasp of the subject….to say the least.
The dictionary defines wind as “a natural movement of air of any velocity” or “a destructive force of nature”. It’s interesting that the first one sounds subtle and non-threatening…maybe even refreshing at times. The second one…not so much, right?
So it should not be surprising that when we open our Bibles and look up references to the wind, we find many that speak of great danger to those exposed to it, when it’s angry, but there are also examples of where it can be refreshing.
What may be surprising is the fact that “moving air” (whether we are talking about wind or breath) seems to be synonomous, in Scripture, with the Holy Spirit. In fact, the rest of what Jesus said in John 3:8 (above) is, “So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” And this common thread was there, even in the very beginning. Moses wrote, “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. [Genesis 1:2 ESV] Sounds like wind to me.
If we look at the Hebrew word, “ruach”, and the Greek word, “pneuma”, the picture begins to become clearer…as they both can be translated as “wind”, “breath” and “spirit” in English. It seems that God chose, in the spiritual realm and the physical, to make an invisible force that can have both comforting or refreshing results…or can bring great damage to things that get in it’s way.
The Creator breathed into Adam and Eve’s nostrils (a natural movement of air), and they became alive. He tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones and say, “I will put breath in you and you will come to life.” It seems pretty obvious that the Lord made a clear connection between breath and life.
There at Pentecost, we see this; “And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” [Acts 2:2] Those who were gathered in that room had no idea what was coming. There were no “storm warnings”…and the sky probably did not give an indication of what was about to happen. But once the Holy Spirit fell upon them, the evidence of it’s presence was impossible to ignore. Everything changed..all that was in it’s holy path..transformed.
Before Jesus left the Earth, He promised that this “mighty rushing wind” would come to those who believe in Him. He said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” [John 14:26-27 ESV]
And when this holy wind of God blows upon you, you are forever changed. It leaves nothing the same as it was. But, very differently than a physical wind of mighty proportions, we are changed for the good….not destroyed or devastated. It leaves peace in it’s wake, a peace that surpasses our earthly understanding of peace.
If you have never experienced the kind of peace that Jesus speaks of, the power of the Holy Spirit, all you have to do is ask.
Jesus said, “If you then….know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” [Luke 11:13 ESV]
All you have to do is ask. Ask and you shall receive.
It is just another example of God pointing us to a spiritual truth, revealing His true nature through the physical things He has made.