Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 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 3:5-8
I filled in for the Sunday school teacher this Sunday, in the teacher’s absence. In some ways it was nice getting back in the saddle, but it was not all good vibes either.
The funny thing is that the class had not started when a mighty wind entered the courtyard outside the classroom. (Our church has an outdoor courtyard in the middle of the churchyard. The church is a two-story building, built on all four sides around this courtyard.) The winds swirled leaves from trees, miles away, into the courtyard and suddenly, the double doors in the glass wall of our classroom burst open. One young man quipped that we could start our class, because the Holy Spirit just arrived. A friend mentioned that it reminded him of John 3. My reply was “You don’t know where it came from and you don’t know where it’s going.”
The class, on the Holy Spirit, was nearly uneventful. There was some argument over what attire people should use in coming to church, but otherwise it went well. The attire thing stemmed from Isaiah 61:3 where it mentions ‘a garment of praise.’ The important thing in learning from Isaiah 61:3 was not what type of garment to wear, but how we can call upon the Holy Spirit to use us to provide comfort and encouragement to others in order to turn their frowns upside down. A concept that was lost on some who wished to take a stand away from the traditional ‘Sunday best’ attire.
The day continued to be windy. According to the weatherman, 30-35 miles per hour sustained winds and gusts over 40 miles per hour. Driving an automobile was difficult. I cannot imagine what it was like in driving a truck or bus. Resting at home, you can tell where the walls leak. As the Scripture says, you cannot see the wind, but you can surely hear it. Note: As an update, the winds have died down a day later to 20-25 miles per hour. It is still too windy to not hold onto your hat.
And where does the wind take us? I related a story that my wife told me. After all, the focus of turning mourning into gladness in Isaiah 61:3 is a theme of encouragement. My wife had talked with one of her exercise friends at cardiac rehab. She found that the old gentleman had not had open-heart surgery like the others in the class. He needed it, but his heart was not strong enough. He wanted to strengthen his heart so that he could see at least one grandchild graduate high school. My wife asked him if she could hug him. She knew that the hug could not take his pain away, but in an instant, and for a while, she shared his pain.
We can shed our ashes and mourning. We can replace them with the oil of Joy and the garments of praise (See Isaiah 61:3). We can do those things by knowing that we are not alone.
For a heart patient, he knows that he has an empathic friend who is willing to share his pain with a hug. And for the friend, she knows that the wind blows. We don’t know where it came from. We don’t know where it is going. But we know that the Holy Spirit is in the house. We are not alone.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.