Practicing our faith through the times of the Coronavirus

Day 52, May 4 2020
“With the wind”

I love the places in the bible where we are told that in Christ Jesus we are a new creation, or that by the grace of God our lives can be transformed. I have found the truth of transformation and new creation time and again in my spiritual life. But I didn’t expect new creation and transformation to impact my physical life so dramatically.

            I was caught off guard when I went on an early morning run about a week ago. Just for the record I am 59. I suppose I should clarify that for the sake of my wife. When we complete our run, which covers the same route every day, I will say, “Well, we just ran five miles.” She corrects me, “It was 5 ½  miles.” So, just for the record, I am 59…and a ½. Except for that day last week, when I experienced transformation and new creation in my physical being. I was not 59…and a ½…I felt more like I was 19…and a ½. I was flying. My step was light. Each stride was filled with a youthlike spring. I was light as a feather. And I was fast as a phenom.

            Did you notice the title of today’s devotional? “With the wind!” I was not really paying attention, I guess because I felt so good. But what I discovered finally is that when I felt 19…and a ½, when I was blazing down the road like a comet zipping across the sky, when it felt like my feet were barely even touching the ground…what I discovered is that I was running with the wind. And it was not a gentle breeze. This was a gale force wind of 30-40 miles per hour. And, we were running downhill. I wish I could tell you I was wise enough to figure all this out when I was running with the wind, and when I was running downhill. Instead, I really believed it was all due to me! I really thought that I had discovered the mysterious fountain of youth. In other words, I took all the credit for my sudden youthful vigor.

            No, I did not notice all this when I was running with the wind, when I was running with the wind and running downhill. Can you guess when I made my discovery? We made a turn. We headed back home. Now we were running on a slight uphill. More importantly, now we were running into the wind. Now we were heading directly into the wind. At this point I must report I experienced another physical transformation. In the space of 20 or 30 yards, as we turned into the wind, as we went full on into a gusting headwind, I experienced another physical transformation. Now instead of being 19…and a ½, I felt like was 99…and a ½. Every step was a struggle. Every breath was a battle. Every single inch…felt like it was a mile. But the wind provided a foil for my feebleness. I had something to blame. The wind! The wind is why I felt so old and why I ran so slow.

            Here on a Monday morning, as we begin yet another week facing the headwinds of the Coronavirus Crisis, I am thinking about the wind that blows constantly throughout the pages of the bible. There are times the bible refers to the Spirit of God as a mighty wind. Fortunately for us, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, is always a helping wind. The Holy Spirit is always at our back. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is always a helping wind. Unfortunately, I find myself time and time again wanting to take the credit when things go well in life, when blessings are abundant, when projects succeed, when harvests are plentiful, when health abounds. As if I could survive this world through my own strength. One of the verses that serves as a corrective to such thoughts is found in Zechariah 4:6. “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit”, says the Lord. We are not self-powered people. We are powered by the Holy Spirit. We receive power when the Holy Spirit fills our lives. I will try to remember that when the wind is with me. “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit” says the Lord.

            When I say the Holy Spirit is always a helping wind, I by no means am saying we will not face headwinds in life. The pages of the bible and the lives that fill those pages are rampant with examples of headwinds, of trials, of tribulations, of disappointments, and of doubts. The bible does not portray a world in which there are no headwinds. What the bible does portray, what the bible witnesses to, what the bible proclaims, is that in the headwinds of life, we have a helping wind, a wind at our back, the Holy Spirit who lifts us and leads us, who strengthens and who sustains us.

One of my favorite hymns captures that sense that we always have a helping wind, we always have the Holy Spirit helping us. It is a hymn that moves from the creation story to the great deliverance of the Exodus, from the Exodus to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and from the resurrection of Jesus to the world in which we live today. Beginning another week in which we face the headwinds of the Coronavirus Crisis, remember that we are not in this alone. We do not face these headwinds through our own power. We have a helping wind at our back. We have the Holy Spirit. May the words of this hymn serve as a prayer for us as we begin this new week.

Spirit, Spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness, calling and free.
Spirit, Spirit of restlessness, stir me from placidness, wind, wind on the sea.

You moved on the waters; you called to the deep;
Then you coaxed up the mountains from the valleys of sleep
And over the eons you called to each thing, “Awake from your slumbers and rise on your wings”
You swept through the desert; you stung with the sand
Then you goaded your people with a law and a land
When they were confounded with idols and lies,
Then you spoke through the prophets to open their eyes
You sang in a stable; you cried from a hill
Then you whispered in silence when the whole world was still
And down in the city, you called once again
When you blew through your people on the rush of the wind
You call from tomorrow; you break ancient schemes
From the bondage of sorrow the captives dream dreams
Our women see visions; our men clear their eyes
With bold new decisions your people arise.

Spirit, Spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness, calling and free.
Spirit, Spirit of restlessness, stir me from placidness, wind, wind on the sea.

(Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness, James K. Manley)

Friends, we have a helping wind. We have the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah! Thanks be to God!

With the love of Christ,