Wind, Spirit, Breath

Wind talks, often just in the whisper of leaves or the tingling of chimes. At other times the wind moans, whether out of loneliness or petulance it is not clear. Sometimes the wind is like a mother gently wiping wispy hair from her child’s face. Several nights ago the wind was in his element, mischievous and unpredictable. Moments of quiet were followed by wild dirges. The wind came around the corner of my house like that neighborhood band of boys, rough-rousing and always playing some sort of conquer-the-world game.

At 2:30 in the morning, I began to worry that perhaps the wind had something up his sleeve, like blowing my chairs off the porch, or worse, sending my rotted carport crashing down on my two cars like a judge pounding his gavel and demanding justice. Admittedly, that carport does deserve a harsh sentence. My husband and I have been too soft, lured by its protection from frost in the winter and its cool shade in the summer.

What is it about wind that seems to have such personality? Is it power that’s visible only by its effect? Is it our inability to control it that makes the wind seem like a two-faced friend? The answer for me lies in the Hebrew word ruach which means breath, spirit, wind.

NIV Genesis 7:22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.

NIV Genesis 1:2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

NRS Genesis 3:8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening wind, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

NRS Exodus 14:21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided.

NKJ Judges 6:34 But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon;

In Scripture, wind represents the presence of the spiritual, whether Yahweh, or an evil spirit. Wind in connection with storms is viewed as supernatural. Breath, also, is connected with a person’s spirit and comes from the Spirit of God. When Hannah was barren she was greatly in sorrow and discouraged in her spirit. The spirit (breath) within her was lifeless. Have you heard those stories of a husband or wife who follows their spouse quickly in death, for no other apparent reason than a broken heart? When the spirit of a person is downcast, the breath soon becomes lifeless.

In Western culture, the air currents of weather seem unrelated to the breath that flows in and out of our bodies without conscious thought. Even within Evangelicalism, the Holy Spirit seems unconnected from the air that moves the clouds across the sky. Not so in the Hebrew worldview. That air that fills the body and brings life is closely related to the Spirit of God, for it is God who breathes life into all living creatures. We are disjointed in Western culture; the Hebrews saw much more fluidity between the spiritual and the physical, as do many cultures today.

Creation imperfectly mirrors the unseen, uncreated realm of Father, Son, and Spirit. The wind mimics the Holy Spirit’s energy and power. The wind moves one weather system out of the area and brings a new system into the area. The Spirit of God blows the old out of the believer and breathes the new life within. The wind cleanses the air of allergens and toxins; the Spirit cleanses the soul of the sinful nature and brings the character of Christ. The wind tears down; the Spirit breaks bondages. The wind spreads fire; the Spirit increases passion for Christ. The wind refreshes; the Spirit rejuvenates. The wind is quiet and loud; the Spirit works with subtlety and strength.

May His breath move within us and accomplish every work of new life that we need.


Looking for Proof

Richard Dawkins doesn’t believe God exists. He is, perhaps, the most big-mouthed atheist in our culture, meaning he’s written several books and been forthright about his scorn for those who believe in the nonsense of religion.

Once, when I was supposed to be busy doing something else, I imagined what I would say if I met Dawkins and was drawn into conversation about the existence of God. As I was mentally in conversation with Dawkins, I picked up my cup to take a drink, thinking it contained tea. When my taste buds collided with my coffee, I was disillusioned. I had expected tea, but tasted coffee. As my mind took a moment to catch up with reality I experienced one of those split seconds that seems to suspend time for a minute.

How ironic, I thought. Dawkins has long ago decided there is no God (and when asked what he would do if he met God after life, Dawkins quoted another atheist, saying, “I’d ask him why he hid himself.”). Dawkins has placed expectations upon the existence of God. When expectation that is misled meets reality, disillusionment results. Right now Dawkin’s hasn’t “sipped from the cup”. But in that first moment after he drinks death he will experience great disillusionment, for instead of “tea”, he’ll taste “coffee.”

 I might have some great arguments to present to Dawkins, but ultimately, I couldn’t prove God exists. God has made Himself unable to be proved. He is not a math equation with an answer at which only smart people arrive. His absolute sovereignty and very nature place himself outside of our reasoning abilities. He is greater than our intellect and beyond our understanding because He is our Creator.

If we could prove there was a God then we wouldn’t have free choice. Our proof of Him would be grounds for power over Him. Any evidence would demand our allegiance and negate freedom of choice. Free choice is one of the foundational principles of who we are as people made in God’s image. We either choose by faith to put our trust in Him as He has revealed Himself, or we choose to disregard Him. His revelation to us does not come in the form of a riddle with a tricky answer, but rather comes to us as an invitation to faith. Next time you are looking for proof, turn instead to His revealed Word and respond in faith.