Fresh Wind and Full Sail is the Antidote to Getting Stale

Jesus was talking to his disciples about the wind, using it to describe the mystery of the spiritual life: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 NASB)

So, what exactly does Jesus mean by this? The wind is an intriguing analogy for one of the most difficult aspects of inner life. How do we know about the Spirit of God? Is He real to us, and as much a part of our perception of God as the other two members of the Trinity? Is a spiritual life some vague, random occurrence? Is Jesus emphasizing what we don’t know and can’t see? Is he saying, like Mohammed Ali, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee; you can’t hit what you can’t see!” Or something else? Here are a few observations related to wind:

1) A spiritual life does have a source beyond us, something that is not necessarily evident. We don’t have the resources on our own to produce it.

2) There is an element of mystery to it; since it is not something we produce and control, we don’t know for sure where it will take us. We took a balloon ride over Napa Valley, and I was surprised that the balloon pilot had so little control over direction. He could go up and down, but he had to navigate according to what the wind dictated. In terms of our spiritual wind, it has a definite direction, but we don’t always know what that is, and it doesn’t necessarily serve human logic.

3) We notice it by its absence. Ever wished for a breeze, when it was still and miserable? Have you ever been spiritually becalmed? Dead in the water? If you are lacking that spiritual push, maybe you long for a little fresh air.

4) The wind, while we can’t see it, provides empirical evidence of its existence—we hear it and feel it. We know it from its effect, much like we know the Spirit from its fruit.

5) The wind is unimaginably powerful (think: tornado, hurricane). Yet we usually feel it blowing gently, or see it filling the sails of a graceful vessel, providing energy and speed. The Spirit is the same: while It is overwhelmingly powerful, He can also move gently through our inner life, providing a source of power and direction. Do you feel a freshening breeze? Better put up some sails, and make sure we are properly rigged; we’re about to set sail for adventure!

The wind expands the billowing sail,
Pushing a mighty ship with ease;
A wind can displace all that’s stale,
And cool your porch with a freshening breeze…
The wind is powerful, wild and free:
You sense the wind and you feel it blow,
Although it’s something you can’t see!
It goes wherever it wants to go…
The breeze can blow the goldenrod,
Invisible whether it’s light or dark;
And so it is with the Spirit of God,
Who is not seen, but leaves His mark.
For when you let the Spirit take command,
He’ll guide you with His gracious, unseen hand.


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Jesus Said, “Peace, Be Still.” Perhaps He was Talking to Us

When it comes to having peace in this world, it’s still a Matter of Faith… Like many of us the disciples faced a storm in their lives; and like many of us, they were stressed and fearful.
“He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:38-40, NIV) Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee when a sudden storm blew up. Apparently exhausted, Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat. He had been surrounded by needy crowds all day and had entered the boat to get away. But Mark says “a furious squall came up.”

Even though several of them were seasoned fishermen, they were so concerned for their safety that they woke Jesus up in alarm. “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He calmed the sea and the wind, and asked them a couple of questions of his own: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Perhaps it surprises us that the disciples, who had a relationship with Jesus, did not feel secure in Him. They still didn’t have a clear understanding of who He was. It surprises us that the disciples, who had seen Jesus perform miracles, were still afraid. Let’s try to make a couple of observations about this passage.

1) It’s easier to have faith when there is no need for it. When we have plenty of evidence, lots of assurance, and a measure of comfort and ease, then everybody has faith. But what about when the storms of life break upon us, and the dangers of this world surround us? What about when our eyes are blinded by the driving rain, and our hearts quake with uncertain fear? That’s when faith takes center stage and becomes real to us. People said in World War II, “There are no atheists in a foxhole.” I think most veterans of combat would agree. Faith matters most amidst uncertainty.

2) Like the disciples, all of us will encounter situations where the demands of life are greater than our resources or experience. There are moments when our faith wavers, and we panic and lose heart. Faith matters then, too. (Maybe Peter was thinking of this moment when he wrote 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your cares upon Him, because he cares for you.”

3) The disciples did not find assurance in psychology, technology, or theology. They found comfort in the presence of Jesus. They took heart in his words, and their faith was recalibrated as a result. If you have a relationship with Jesus, take back your faith, and find comfort in his presence. Take heart in his words. Perhaps when Jesus said, “Peace, be still”, he was talking to more than just the wind and the waves.

The night was stormy, dark and cold;
And we were fishermen, tough and bold,
But we grew discouraged & hopes were dimmed
By towering waves and threatening wind.
So all of my mates all began to quake
From the boisterous wind on the stormy lake.
But Jesus slept in the back of the boat, 
So tossed by the waves it could hardly float,
And some of the guys woke him up in alarm,
Concerned that we would all come to harm...
Jesus said, "Why are you so afraid?
Where is your faith? Believe!" He said,
And he looked at the waves and said, "Peace, be still".
It gave our fearful hearts a thrill
When the waves grew calm, and the wind lost its chill:
It amazed me then; it amazes me still.
I guess you had to have been there, then,
But try to picture it if you can:
A bunch of tough old fishermen
Now asking ourselves, "Who IS this man?"
But here's the question I had that night,
When Jesus spoke and made things right,
(Said, "Peace, be still", and we all could see, 
That the waves grew as calm as they could be):
Was he talking to THEM, or was he talking to ME?

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