“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
I really wanted to go for a bike ride over the weekend.
I stepped outside and walked to the edge of the porch only to have a cold westerly wind change my mind. A few moments of gazing at the trees bending under an unseen load convinced me that I did not want to venture out into that kind of wind. So, I returned back to the serenity of indoors. I did this analysis three times before I rationalized my cycling kit on and grabbed my bike. I know that riding in the wind is not much fun, but I just wanted to get out of the house and get a work-out in.
The soundness of that logic was questioned throughout the first few miles of my ride as tree limbs bent into the roadway delivering a moaning question as to why I had ventured from my protective walls. I fought that wind for miles upon miles, grinding away in my smallest chainring, hoping to at least match my forward speed to that of the wind in my face. There was no escaping the relentless resistance of that wind since the route I had decided upon took me directly into it. I tried to stay low and ground away with each pedal stroke in anticipation of the turn.
The turn is when you pass the half-way mark and start to head home. Better yet, the turn would put my back to the wind on this day. I made my way with eagerness onto a road that would connect me to the turn. It also had the benefit of taking me out of the frontal assault of the wind. It was on this road that I felt the first few drops. In my battle with the wind, I had not noticed the dark clouds that now barred my return.
I summited the last climb before the turn with the full knowledge that I was going to get wet and this ride was going to get really miserable. The skies opened up on me as I descended to the turn. Water rolled off of my chin and down my back as my wheels spun a whisper of spray that appeared to double their size. I quickly lost all concern for wind as I made the turn, for my mind had shifted to the concerns of slick pavement and the hope of home. I dipped my head to keep the rain off of my glasses and grabbed a harder gear – I needed to get home. I focused on my cadence as I continued to work through my gear cassette until I could not shift anymore.
I was in my hardest gear and pedaling freely. I don’t know how fast I was going since my speedometer had quit, but I must have been tickling 30 mph. I rode like this for several miles, maintaining a speed on the flats that I could never hold by myself. The only reason I was being hurried home was because of the wind. That very same wind that I had fought all the way out, was now lifting me to a speed I could never do unaided.
That ride home was fun. The very same wind that had caused me such misery going out, provided great joy on the way home. In fact, wind transformed what normally is more miserable than a head wind, a cold ride in drenching rain, into an exhilarating experience that I will remember.
This love / hate experience with wind spurred my meditation of the workings of the Spirit of God in those who are His. I believe that there are times in our spiritual lives when we are walking directly into the resisting force of the Spirit that is intent upon changing our direction.
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. (Acts 16:6-7)
I don’t know how the Spirit resisted Paul but it seems like Paul’s path became too difficult so he changed it. I believe that the Spirit still works that way. We just have to discern when to follow the guiding blow of the Spirit and turn out of the wind to the path of less resistance. That is not always easy to discern because the Spirit might have other purposes.
I believe that there are times when the Spirit blows in our face not to get us to change to direction but in order to strengthen us. The trials and temptations of our lives could simply be removed by the Lord, but often He does not. Frequently, He allows them because we need the work-out.
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
The Holy Spirit guiding us through suffering is evidence of God’s love for us. God loves us too much to leave us as spiritual couch potatoes. There are times when we feel resistance in our lives because the Spirit is blowing into our face in order to build endurance, which will produce character, and from that character will emerge God glorifying hope, and everyone needs hope to persevere to the end. In these instances, we should not turn from the path that we are on. We need to grind on. We need to get low and endure. We need to accept the love of God through our suffering.
We can accept our suffering as the love of God because we, by faith, know that the power of the Spirit is actually what is carrying us home. While the Spirit is allowing and guiding us through difficult times, it is also the Spirit who is powering us through those very same difficulties. It is because of the tail-wind of the Holy Spirit that we can endure longer than we could ever do unaided. It is because of the power of the Spirit that we can perform beyond our abilities.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
Therefore, we are driven to hope when we grind into the Spirit’s head-wind and when we experience the powerful effects of the Spirit pushing us home.
I often don’t know where or how the Spirit is blowing in my life.
I find it difficult to know when the Spirit is guiding me to turn in a new direction or to grind on.
I regularly fail to realize the power that is pushing me forward as I labor to follow Christ.
I am quick to grumble about trials rather relishing all the joy and peace in believing.
However, the mysterious winds of the Spirit, in all their forms, are a blessing for those who are in Christ. The Spirit is our gift to help us through this fallen world.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:5)
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 you. Not as the world give do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:26-27)
We never have to be discouraged or afraid. We have been given the Holy Spirit – our Helper. He is the One who will do all that is necessary to get us home – guide us in the right direction, build hope in our hearts, and carry us when needed. Praise God that we have not been abandoned. We are loved and cared for by our Helper who will be with us forever. Now, let’s go live our lives relishing all the joy and peace in believing.
PRAYER: Father, thank you for sending us our Helper. Thank you for the work of the Spirit in my life – guiding, correcting, stengthening, and sustaining me. Lord, teach me to rely upon your Spirit in all conditions. Teach me to live in your joy and peace. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.