This was first posted as my April blog for the Grace and Such website:
As I write this, it is early March. It’s a typical March day in Southeastern Pennsylvania: cool, no snow, and very windy. Winnie the Pooh would describe today as a “blustery day.” I live in the woods, so it seems like windy days are more pronounced. The trees are quite tall and they sway precariously back and forth, leaving small traces of themselves in the form of branches all over the yard and driveway.
One of my dogs, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, likes these windy days. When she is let outside she stands perfectly still, facing the wind, nose in the air, actively sniffing, her long ears waving madly behind her. I always wonder what she smells in the wind. Today I hope she smells the promise of spring.
But it is the sound of the wind through the trees that is distinctive. When the wind is particularly strong, the sound is as if a train were traveling nearby, or a large truck chugging its way up the hill. The wind ebbs and flows in intensity, but it is still constant. The noise is almost consuming, and a little unnerving.
The wind reminds me of Pentecost. The time when the Holy Spirit dramatically came to dwell in those who believed in the work of Jesus Christ, the one who had left them only 10 days before. Jesus had promised his people the Spirit, Someone who would help them in their journey of faith from that time forward.
The Spirit was not unknown to the people of the time; they knew the stories of the Holy Spirit from the Old Testament. But the Spirit did not reside in people continuously up to that point. He would come in and out of people’s lives as was necessary according to God’s purposes.
On that day of the original Pentecost, according to Acts 2, the Spirit came into the place where the Disciples were gathered as a “violent wind” in NIV; “a strong, gale force wind” in The Message; or a “rushing, mighty wind” in the KJV. How ever you want to describe it, there is the sense of something you could not miss, something phenomenal. What the Spirit brought was a newness to the disciple’s experience of faith. A fresh encounter meant for their good. From that moment on, nothing was the same. They now had Someone who provided guidance, power, and help whenever they needed it, and, in particular, when they went out to tell the world about the Kingdom of Heaven. This promise from Jesus was not just for the disciples in the room at Pentecost, but for all who follow him in faith.
I often wonder what our lives would look like, if we, too, had the experience of the violent wind associated with the Spirit of God. Would it help us to understand the power God has given to us through the Spirit? Certainly, there have been moments in every Christian’s life when it has been impossible to ignore the sense of the Spirit working in a situation.
However, the daily-ness of our lives often obscures the presence of the Spirit in the days and nights in which we exist.
While I don’t really want to live in that space, I realize I often do. It is a battle of the flesh to move from the mind numbing routines that mark my days, into a place of noticing the work of the Spirit, to live in expectancy of God’s work around me.
Living this kind of intentionality towards God’s presence is not easy. While necessary, even “quiet times” occasionally become stale and habitual. It is so easy to flow through the days without regard for the incredible resources that have been given to me. How does one overcome this state of mind?
I’m not really sure, but I believe I’ve discovered a problem in my life which gets in the way of experiencing God in a mighty way: I keep forgetting that the Spirit is here to help me. I keep forgetting why the Spirit was given to me. I keep forgetting that the Spirit is my source of strength even as I continue to lean on myself to re-charge, find purpose, and seek God.
This forgetting part isn’t working out so well.
Rather than forgetting, what seems to be necessary is the act of remembering.
Remembering who the Spirit is and what the Spirit does. When I practice remembering, I open myself to the One who is my Helper. This One reminds and teaches me to look towards God. I need to remember that the Spirit is here to assist me in sensing the presence of the living God in all aspects of my life.
By remembering, a fresh wind blows over me, and I am like my little Spaniel, facing the wind, sniffing the air, enveloped in the arms of God. In the act of remembering, I become like the disciples at Pentecost, equipped to do the work of God.
It is in this place where I can start my day with a fresh eagerness:
“What will we do today, Spirit? How will Your presence be made known to me today? Where will You take me? Who will we meet for Your purposes?”
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 said to you. John 14:26 NASB