2362) Who Has Seen the Wind? (part one of two)

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Acts 2:1-2  —  When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.


     ‘A violent wind,’ it says.  This meditation will be about wind.

     The first warm breezes of the early spring are well received.  By then, everyone is anxious for the snow to melt, and combined with a March sun, a warm South wind can make the snow disappear quickly.  Then, with the snow gone, the wind helps to dry things out.  Before long, kids and farmers are out, with their kites and with their tractors.  Spring winds mean freedom, bringing us out from the confines of winter to the freedom of playing outside without being bundled up, and freedom to get into the fields.

     But before long, those winds can become violent.  Late spring and early summer is prime time for deadly storms in the Midwest, and everyone who has ever lived here has a healthy respect for what the winds of a tornado can do.  At this time of year, in this part of the country, you want to pay some attention to the wind.  There is not much one can do about it except seek shelter, and sometimes that becomes necessary, for the early summer winds can be deadly.

     But the winds of summer that can kill, can also cool.  Now that everything is air conditioned we may forget what a blessing it used to be to get a cool summer breeze.  Just a little breeze could make a huge difference on the hay wagon piling bales in the afternoon, or in bed at night with the window open.  I am just old enough to remember life without air-conditioning, and how miserable it was on those days when it was hot, humid, and still.  Cool summer breezes can still feel pretty good, but back then, it was your only hope for any comfort or relief from the stifling heat.

     The cold winds of the fall are my least favorite winds.  We are not yet used to the lower temperatures, and those first few icy winds chill us to the bone, reminding us of the misery to come in winter.  Another reminder of the winter ahead are the noisy geese flying overhead.  On more than one occasion I have been jealous of those geese.  They are on their way South where the winds will not be so cold.

     Then comes winter, which more than any other time of year, can make me restless, wishing I were somewhere else.  Shoveling snow in a thirty mile an hour wind on a 20 below day always does that to me.

     That winter wind, combined with snow, can literally stop us in our tracks like nothing else.  I was once caught out on a South Dakota highway, at night, in a howling blizzard; and it became a life-threatening situation.  I got stuck in a huge snowdrift, in the middle of the road, with no farm in sight.  Nothing was in sight.  A fierce wind had come in while I was on the road, and I was unable to see more than 50 feet in any direction.

    I began to think about the possibility of freezing to death or getting slammed into by another vehicle.  The snow itself had not put me in that danger.  It was the wind that had piled up a whole bunch of snow on that bend in the road.  The wind also made me invisible to any other car or snow plow on that road.  The deadly cold wind also made it impossible to leave the car and try and walk for help or shelter.  The wind that night could have ended my life.  I did shovel my way out before I got hit or froze.  I remember still, very vividly, what a comfort it was go into my apartment that night and be home and safe, out of the wind.

      I am describing wind in such detail because in both the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament, the word for ‘wind’ is the word used for God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus described this Holy Spirit he did so with this word picture (John 3:8): “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

     Then in Acts 2, on that first Pentecost Sunday, the day that the Holy Spirit was sent to inspire and lead and guide the early believers; that Spirit’s arrival was announced by the sound of a ‘violent wind.’  In Acts 2 the wind came first and then came tongues of fire on each person’s head.  Then, says verse four, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

     Of the three persons of the Trinity– Father, Son, and Holy Spirit– the Holy Spirit is the most difficult to describe or imagine.  God the Father we hear about all the way through the Old Testament, along with reading of his mighty works.  God the Son is revealed in a person, Jesus Christ, and we have many stories about him and words from him.  But in trying to figure out who or what the Holy Spirit is, all we get is this image of wind.  So let’s look again at how we experience wind.  (continued…)