“The wind blows (breathes) where it wills; and though you hear its sound, yet you neither know where it comes from nor where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
I had always thought of this verse as being a description of the Spirit of God Who is like the wind, blowing where He wills, but one day the Spirit of God blew away my interpretation and I saw that the verse is not just about the Spirit of God; the verse describes the wind and then doesn’t say “so it is with the Spirit” but says: “so is EVERYONE that is born of the Spirit” (KJV). He says that this is how it is with US – with everyone who is born of the Spirit/Wind! Jesus was describing to Nicodemus what those who were born from above were like; it is a description of everyone who is born of the Spirit.
The Greek word translated as both Spirit and wind in this verse is Pneuma. It is defined as: a movement of air (a gentle blast) of the wind, hence the wind itself, or breath of nostrils or mouth. Similarly, the Hebrew word for Spirit is Ruwach and is defined as wind, breath, mind, spirit and this word is again used interchangeably for breath, wind and spirit (eg 2 Sam 22:16, 2 Kings 3:17). It can be said of us that we go where HE wills/blows, yet we don’t know how He got us there, or where we’ll be tomorrow… we are not in control of our destiny, our lives, or even our direction – He is.
So Father began to teach me something about this Wind that we are born of and live and move by…
The Spirit as Wind
The wind is often unpredictable and blows one way one minute and then changes and blows another the next and who knows why or where or when it will blow next! In a similar way, to those who are of the earth, the people of the Spirit (wind/breath) may sometimes appear unpredictable or changeable as they go wherever the Spirit blows, but to God it proves that He is truly in control of us and that we are adjustable and teachable and willing to be blown and directed according to His Wind.
As a family we recently went through a large cornfield maze and got thoroughly lost for a couple of hours! The maze was made in the shape of an America’s Cup sailing yacht and had interesting facts about sailing on plaques throughout the maze. I know very little about sailing, but one of these facts hit me with its spiritual truth every time we came across it in the field, which was, unfortunately for us, more than just once! It said:
“Apparent wind is the wind you feel as you move yourself forwards; true wind is the wind you feel when you stand still and perceive what direction the true wind is blowing.”
This ‘fact’ challenged me about perceiving what Spirit/Wind we are discerning and sensing; is it apparent wind or true Wind? Sometimes we can be so busy doing things “for God” and carrying on with what our own understanding of Him and His ways are, that we may THINK we are going with the Spirit/Wind and doing what He desires simply because we do feel the wind on our face – but we may be mistaking apparent wind for the true Wind. It may be just apparent wind caused by our own action and ability and therefore not true wind which we are sensing. In order to go on, we must stop! The true Wind/Spirit is often only discerned when we stop moving and stand still and wait – THEN we may perceive which direction the Wind is truly blowing in and can then ‘go with the flow’!
Father sometimes brings me to a standstill with a phrase that we teach our children when they are learning to cross a street: “Stop, Look and Listen”. Before taking one step, they must be sure that the way is clear. The same is true with us and our Father, He will sometimes tell us to stop, look and listen – STOP our action and be still, LOOK to see what He wants us to see now that He has brought us to a halt, and LISTEN and wait to hear what direction He would now have us go in and how and when He wants us to proceed. When we stop we no longer feel the apparent wind but can then sense the true Wind; and we may need to change direction or change course as a result.
Our self-made apparent wind may be something which was initially the direction of the true Wind. We may have begun going in a certain direction with the flow of the Spirit behind us to support and empower, only to miss the prompting to Stop, Look and Listen and so missed the Wind change and carried on sailing along in the power of our own strength and ability instead. Wind is unpredictable. It can change and blow in another direction in an instant which is why our Father will occasionally prompt us to stop so we can once again sense the True Wind rather than just the apparent wind. This is one way in which He can test us to see whether we are intent on going on obliviously or whether we are sensitive to Him and His voice. It will reveal whether we will listen and then just carry on, or whether we will not only listen but also obey and be adjustable to which direction He wishes to go in at any given point in time. We are not to be blown about by every wind of doctrine (by the breath/wind originating from man – Eph 4:14) but blown by the true Wind of God.
Going with the Wind/Spirit of God is vital. I have often told Him the obvious: “Father, I cannot get through this day if You do not go with me as my Strength and Life.” Eventually He told me to “Stop, Look and Listen” to what I had been saying… and in stopping, looking and listening I realized that I needed to turn those words around and instead say “Father, I cannot get through this day if I do not go WITH YOU as my Strength and Life.” He is going on and He knows exactly what direction He is going in! It would be ludicrous to hop onto a yacht to go sailing and say to the wind “Please go with me today, I cannot get anywhere unless you go with me” as though we were in control of where we were going and were expecting the wind to blow us in the direction we planned to go; yet we often treat the Wind/Spirit of God in this way. We first need to stop, look and listen to discern and know which way the Wind is blowing and then simply yield and submit to His direction as He blows us where He desires to, and we go with Him!
Wind is essential to nature just as the Wind of God is essential to us. One morning as I was sitting in our garden, my eye was caught by a small seed which was being blown about by the wind. It was clear from its design that it was created to blow through the air to wherever the wind took it! Eventually it landed on some stones. But it didn’t stay there for more than a few seconds because another gust of wind came and blew it up into the air again. It slowly floated back down and landed on some bricks. Again it didn’t stay there for long because the wind picked it up and carried it away; the seed was specially designed so that it would keep going with the wind – waiting until it was deposited into the right environment of moist, soft soil to settle in and germinate and grow. It had no control over where it was blown to, whether that was way up into the air or onto stones or soil. The seed did not determine where it would land or what spot was most suitable for it; that was determined by the Wind, and the same is true with us as His seeds.
In the Bible we are likened to being His garden and the Wind blows on us to bring forth the perfume and fragrance of His Life from us (Song of Solomon 4:16). However, the wind can be both very gentle and very powerful, it may be beneficial or destructive and it is referred to as both in the Bible. Strong, stormy winds can easily destroy what is made by man; but what is planted by God will stand and actually be strengthened by the storm’s winds. Ezekiel spoke of the wind of God’s anger blowing down what was not solid and of God and thus revealing their true nature and exposing the foundations (Ezekiel 13:10-15). A similar message was given by Jesus in Matthew 7:24-27 – the house (person) that is not built and established on Him and His Life, who only hears but does not obey, will collapse when the Wind blows strongly. Powerful winds can blow down, destroy and uproot – or they can test for strength and depth of roots. Wind strengthens trees and is necessary for blowing away dead leaves, branches and flowers; getting rid of the old to make way for new growth and to blow seeds to where they can bring forth new life.
May we be those who not only perceive the direction of the Wind but who also submit to His Wind and go with Him to wherever He chooses to blow us for His glory!
“You have called me a garden, Oh I pray that the north wind and the south wind may blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out in abundance for You in whom my soul delights.” Song of Solomon 4:16.