Got out for the last sail of the summer season yesterday as a Southeaster was blowing up! The sun was shining, it’s true, but the wind was doing a pretty good job of clarifying that summer is indeed gone!
So with sails fully reefed, one hand on the tiller, one set to release the sheets if need be (so as not to capsize!) my skipper was in his glory as we skimmed across the sea. Where was I? Below deck lending my body as ballast to the high side of the boat, wedged into place so as not to fall from my ‘roost’–reflecting on a friend’s casual question: “Linda, do you like wind?”
She does. But I wanted to retort at the time, “Have you ever sailed in a Southeaster? … shielded yourself from a dustdevil?…watched a tornado form listening to the car radio far from home or shelter…or fought a headwind while cycling?!” No, I don’t generally like wind. I don’t like the cold of it or the lonely eerie whine of it in the sails….
But there is another perspective. The seagulls out my wee windows are wheeling freely in it, gliding just above the water’s surface. They don’t seem frazzled at all.
“It’s beautiful!” comes the voice of my mate, in awe of the wind’s power to carry us effortlessly across the water. “It’s amazing!” he says, peeking down the hatch to see what shape I’m in.
Just last night a conversation with some ladies came up about wind and tall trees– to one they are scary and should be cut down. Another loves the sound of the wind in her giant fir trees.
So wedged in my little nook I contemplate what makes the difference. Why do we love wind or fear it? I think of the Holy Spirit being likened to wind.
“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) [Later I find out the same word is used in the Greek to mean both wind and spirit!]
I think of the Spirit hovering over the face of the waters at Creation. Here is order being brought to a formless void. This is no random gust of terrifying force. Perhaps it is the unpredictable force of wind I do not like, the destructive potential, the sheer power rendering me helpless…
But I am proud of myself today. I have not always been so calmly contemplative under sail! There was a time when I would scream, “We’re tipping!!” There have been tense, cringing, praying-for-this-to-be-over sails. What has made the difference? I trust my skipper and my boat now. We have been through windy seas together and both inspire confidence. And I think of this as I measure the answer to that question: “Do you like wind?” and I have to qualify my answer. When I am cozied in wool and windbreaker with warm dry feet, a brisk wind in my face is scintillating–a delicious token of changing seasons. When I am warm and safe the wind in the trees or even lashing rain at my window only serves to heighten my sense of coziness.
And what of the Spirit / wind analogy? Is there another question I could ask myself? Do I welcome God’s Wind to will and to do His good pleasure in my life? Am I at ease with my Skipper to sail me through stormy seas, trimming the sails to maximize the power of the Wind. Am I eager to recognize ‘the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that [I] may know Him better… that [I] may know his incomparably great power for us who believe’ (Eph.1:17-19)
Where there is wind there is power. Where the Spirit is at liberty there is power–“We all, beholding the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image–for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (IICor.3:18,17)
What will be my response to the promise of incomparable power unleashed in my life. I read the story of the Gadarene villagers and their demon-possessed pig herd this morning (Mt.8:28-34) They recognized Jesus had uncanny power, able to free a man from a horde of fierce demons. And what did they do in the face of such power? Terrified, they begged him to leave their town.
In the storm at sea the terrified disciples depaired that they were gonna’ die and marveled when Jesus rebuked the wind and waves. They were censured for their little faith, and could only marvel, “What sort of man is this, that even wind and sea obey Him?” (Mt.8:27)
And that’s the key isn’t it? –knowing this God of ours. I guess we would all do well to pray Paul’s prayer in Eph.1:17-19 (above). Do I perceive what great power He holds on my behalf, what great power resides in my heart through His Spirit?
What situations can I carry to Him like the two blind men who came crying, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” (Mt.9:27-31) How did Jesus respond? A question:“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” And to their, “Yes, Lord.” came His response: a touch to open their eyes and a promise: “According to your faith be it done to you.”
So, come wind and weather, as surely they will come, we would do well to remember the Wind in our sails is bent on our good. Its power is incomparable but we are in Good Hands. God’s got a Hand on the tiller and one on the sheets and He’s taking us to Glory!!
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble..”‘–the sons of Korah
“And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us!”–Martin Luther