Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Born of the Spirit

 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
John 3:8

So, I was thinking about the wind this morning.  I'm not seeing any outside my office window.  Not that I would actually see it.  But I would know it was there by the movement of the trees.  Even though I hear thunder, and the ground is wet from rain - apparently this is not a fast-moving thunderstorm - the leaves are only gently rustling.  No wind.  Barely a breeze.

Hmm...  Wind.  Prime factor for change.  Change on the earth's surface.  Change on structures.  Change on lives.  And you can't see it; you can only see the results of it.  Wind.

A few years ago, my husband and I went on a mission trip to Gautier, Mississippi.  You can look it up on a map, right on the Gulf Coast, at the mouth of the Pascalgoula River.  It's about 15 miles east of it's more famous neighbor, Biloxi, and about 100 miles from New Orleans.  Gautier was one of the many places to get hit by hurricane Katrina in 2005.  It was hit badly.  

On August 29, 2005 Gautier was one of many cities affected by Hurricane Katrina. Many of the coastal homes were either destroyed or flooded. Some of the houses along the coast were built on hills, leaving them with wind damage only. Homes built on the water were completely destroyed, occasionally leaving an intact slab. In a few cases the slabs were cracked in half. One home in particular was built on pylons 13 feet (4 m) above sea level and had the floor ripped out from underneath. Most of northern Gautier, above the railroad tracks, had some wind damage but largely remains intact.    

We certainly saw the results of the wind.  Our small group was kept busy re-roofing homes.  Homes that had lost those roofs during the 100 to 140 mph winds of Katrina's landfall. 

This scripture snagged me during my reading this morning.  Of course, there is so much more in this chapter of John - being reborn of the spirit and God so loved the world...  But none of that caught me like this little triad.  I didn't get hooked in a wide-eyed-God-is-amazing way, but rather in an I-am-a-little-confused-about-God's-purpose-sometimes way.  Jesus is so convincing that I almost missed the but wait moment.  

Here it is.  The wind blows wherever it pleases.  Yup.  No argument there.  You hear its sound - again, no argument... but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going - well....minor adjustments there for me.  See, I believe in the Bible AND science.  Science can measure wind speed AND direction with a handy dandy contraption called an anemometer.  It's almost like the paper windmills we made as kids - blow on them and they turn.  So, yeah, we know where it comes from and we know where it's going.  But...track back a little more - science says wind is caused by changes in air pressure and temperature.  And where do THOSE changes come from.  (Earth's rotation, water in the atmosphere, currents, distance from the sun, position of the moon and planets, and so on, and so on...)  I'm not scientist enough to track back much further, but I eventually come up against GOD.  Yup.  So I'm ok with minor adjustments - the end result is the same.

So here's the real kicker.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.  Huh?  Did I miss something?  Jesus was answering Nicodemus's question about being saved.  How?  Where?  What is done?  Jesus has already answered one way, with rebirth, not literal birth, but of the spirit.  Nicodemus still doesn't understand, so Jesus describes the vagrancies of the wind.  Then the simile.  The one that stops me - the vagrant wind is the Spirit?  Being saved by the Spirit causes us to be like the wind?  Vagrant, unpredictable, unreliable.  Connotations that are weighing just a little toward the negative, right?

So maybe I read it wrong.  The Holy Spirit descended on the disciples in a violent wind from heaven.  The breath of God is the breath of life for Adam, Job, Moses, Isaiah, and Ezekiel.  It is the wind of destruction for the enemies of King David.   And then there's Solomon.  

As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.
Ecclesiastes 11:5

You have to love Solomon.  

The wind is not vagrant.  It is God's agent.  An agent of change.  Of life.  Of death.  Of purpose.   The wind is not unreliable.  It will come.  A change will come.  We live, we die, the only things we can control are our choices - our purpose.  Poor Nicodemus saw all the outward signs of Christ's teaching, and he wanted to be a part of the Kingdom;  but with his earthly eyes, his cause and effect mentality, his concrete facts and observations, he just didn't see the wind.   Yeah.  God is sovereign.  He is God.  And Jesus?  Amazing Grace.  The Holy Spirit.  Wind of change, breath of life.  Yeah - three in one.

Thank you God, for your patience with our questions and doubts.  Thank you for answers to questions.  Thank you for rebirth and holy change.

Linking with Teach Me Tuesdays

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