For those of you who do not know me, I was born and raised…and still live in Northeast Ohio…near the shores of Lake Erie. I know Chicago is called “the Windy City,” and rightly so. But there are plenty of times where those of us who live in and around Cleveland would likely say we could give Chicago a run for their money in that category. And I will say this, over the last two weeks or so, the winds have been whipping here almost everyday. I don’t know if I can remember a time where the wind was that strong for that long…and that got me thinking.
Over the last few months, we have seen wildfires in Northern California, up in Montana and now down in Southern California…all driven by high winds. So it seems pretty obvious that wind can make fires spread rapidly. But wind can also make things much colder than they would otherwise be. Up here in Ohio, we know all about “wind chill” and “lake effect.” Those winter winds can really get moving, as they come across a chilly or frozen lake. As a good friend of mine would often say, “It’s cold enough to make a snowman order up a hot chocolate.” And trust me, he has a point.
Like I said earlier, all this talk about wind and the good and bad things it can bring, it got me thinking. In each and every one of these instances mentioned above, apart from the wind, these places and people were just fine. Buildings, utilities, roads and bridges, forests, animals and of course, humans can go from being “safe and secure” to “severely threatened” in a matter of minutes when the winds turn wild. The results can not only be destructive, but very deadly, as well, as we saw with the recent wildfires and, of course, the hurricanes that devastated the good folks in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In fairness, wind is not always a bad thing. We can harness it to lift planes into the air, propel watercraft, produce electricity and need I say that on a sizzling hot afternoon, a bit of a breeze can be very welcome. But once again, in these situations, the presence of wind changes things…from a plane sitting on a tarmac…to a sailboat sitting in the middle of the lake…without the wind no one gets where they want to go. Wind makes a huge difference on virtually everything it touches, that much we know for sure.
In 2016, I wrote my first book called “Unlocking Creation.” The basic premise of the book was that when we look at the things God has made, if we look close enough, we often see aspects of His nature woven into the fabric of those created things. For instance, light vs dark is often used as a metaphor for good and evil. Hot and cold often points to when things go to the extremes, beyond that which is comfortable, and how would God have us respond to that. How about male and female? We are taught that God made man in His own image, so I guess He could have made only one gender that was self-sufficient and could even reproduce on it’s own, if He chose to do that. But, of course He did not, and I believe that was because He wanted to show us how much value He places on relationships. He wanted us to understand that being human is meant to be a team sport, more like curling than golf, let’s say.
So in the same way, especially with all the wind related events happening around us, I though it would be fun to ask the question…”Why wind, Lord?” What was He revealing to us about Himself, through the creation of wind and how should we apply what we learn from wind to our lives, both physically and spiritually. As usual, I can think of no better place to begin this study than the Bible. Afterall, it is God’s Word. It’s always good to go to the source, I believe. So let’s go back to the very beginning, the Book of Genesis, when God made Adam, the very first human.
Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being. [Genesis 2:7 CSB]
First of all, I would point out that the Hebrew word for wind is “ruach” and the Greek word for wind is “pneuma”…and those are the same Greek and Hebrew words for “breath” and “spirit.” So it should be no surprise, just as with the other things we talked about, that before God applied moving air, here, or breath or wind or what have you….Adam was merely a lifeless pile of dust formed into the shape and size of a man. But once God breathed into his nostrils, all that was changed dramatically for Adam and everyone who came after him. They became living creatures. And wind-powered ones, at that, not unlike that sailboat. So it appears God did not just want to make us in His own image, in appearance only. No, that would be a statue, basically. He desired that we should be “made alive” and He used the movement of air to accompish that. Pretty interesting, right?
He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man. Say to it: This is what the Lord God says: Breath, come from the four winds and breathe into these slain so that they may live!” So I prophesied as he commanded me; the breath entered them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army. [Ezekiel 37:9-10 CSB]
Here in the Book of Ezekiel, God is telling Ezekiel to “prophesy to the breath” and that this breath would enter the dry, lifeless bones of the slain and that they would spring to life, stand on their feet and become a vast army. Pneuma…ruach…wind does it again. Are we beginning to see a pattern here? I’d say so. But wind can not only make people alive, it can cause them to die, too, as we see below in the story of Jesus calming the raging seas.
They came and woke him up, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to die!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves. So they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, asking one another, “Who then is this? He commands even the winds and the waves, and they obey him!” [Luke 8:24-25 CSB]
This one is very interesting, because we get to see both sides of the coin. First, we see the storms are raging and the disciples were very afraid. Remember, some of these men were fishermen. They knew the equation…strong winds + a larger body of water = danger (maybe even death). So they wake Jesus up and He simply commands the winds and waves to stop, and what do you know, they do just that. So this Jesus, who the Bible tells us is the Son of God, was with God in the beginning and the One who created all things including the wind, tells it to stop and it does. So in some cases, we see the Lord applying wind to bring about a positive change to things that were otherwise lifeless. And in this case we see the Creator turning off the wind to keep other people from dying. Mind-boggling…to say the least. But in the Bible, wind is not just something that can either bring a lifeless creature to life…or cause a living one to die. Apparently, it can also be something that either blows someone onto the path that leads to truth or off of it, as the Apostle Paul describes below.
“As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine…” [Ephesians 4:14 NASB]
Like Bob Dylan wrote many years ago, “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind…the answer is blowin’ in the wind” (those of you who read my book “Unlocking Creation”, you know that as a long-time musician and songwriter, myself, I often like to refer to classic songs in my writing…it is kinda my thing). It is true, not only with physical things, but in the spiritual realm. You might refer to it as “inspiration”…and so it is. But keep in mind that in the Greek and the Hebrew…..wind, breath and spirit are all synonomous. When we are inspired, or when we feel that tug or nudge to do something good (or maybe not so good), it is a spiritual breeze, of sorts, that I believe is “tossing us here or there” as Paul puts it. He was saying that if you are grounded in Christ and in God’s Word, you will be able to withstand those “winds of change” that try to blow us off course.
“The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” [John 3:8 CSB]
And I will close with this verse from one of my favorite chapters in the Bible…John 3. It is the chapter where we get so many priceless quotes from our Lord as He has this memorable discussion with a Jewish Priest named Nicodemus, who came to Jesus in secret to find out what message this man from Nazareth was preaching. Nicodemus realized that Jesus was sent from God, and he came wanting to know more, even though most of the other Jews saw Him as a threat. Jesus told him, “You must be born again.” He told him that we are born once of the water (physically), but if we want to find the Kingdom of God, we must be born of the Spirit…in other words…God must breathe life into us, spiritually, by empowering us with the wind of God….the Holy Spirit.
Once again, the breath of God…the ruach…the pneuma must come upon us and change us from being “lifeless” (spiritually speaking), to being “made alive” by a wind that we “know not where it comes from or where it is going,” as Jesus told Nicodemus.
Now one might ask, “Why would God want to empower us with a Spirit that we know not where it comes from or where it is going?” My answer would be, “We do not need to worry about where we have been in the past or where we shall go in the future. Jesus simply asks His disciples to follow Him. He is fully able to get us where we need to go, now and in the future. Have faith and do not fear, His wind will carry us there, if we are willing to let Him.
So then, only one obvious question remains..”How can a person receive or become empowered by this miraculous wind of God that Jesus referred to as the Helper (John 14:26) or the Holy Spirit.” Well, He actually tells us how in Chapter 11 of Luke’s Gospel:
“If you then, who are evil, 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 CSB]
There’s our answer…just “ask Him”…ask your Heavenly Father. He is a “Good, Good Father,” as the song says. He loves to give good gifts to His children.
(author of “Unlocking Creation” and “The Red Letter Parables”)