Saturday afternoon it was snowing and the report for Sunday called for bitter cold and high winds. Even though I was safe and warm inside, i was not happy about this storm. It had been a long winter already and this wasn’t going to make spring come any faster. On top of that, I had a great lesson, complete with cool object lessons, lined up for my Sunday school class the next day and was excited to present it to the kids. Now i couldn’t be sure if any kids would even show up. As i fell asleep that night, I prayed that God would either bring the families to church or give me an alternate plan for the few stragglers that would brave the elements the next morning. I didn’t get much sleep as the predicted winds blew around the house all night. There was only a few inches of accumulated snow but the drifts and ice patches were still a problem. So I prayed, “Lord, these are your kids. What would you like me to do with them in church today?” As I bowed my head, wisps of verses dealing with wind started to flit through my mind. “Of course”, I thought, “talk about what’s going on. Talk about the wind.”
And that’s what happened. I scrapped my carefully planned lesson, and started searching out the verses that mentioned wind to see where it would lead me. I found that in the Old Testament, God used wind alot as a symbol for not just His power, but also to show how He protects and helps us. In Genesis 8:1, wind made the waters recede so that Noah and his family could leave the ark. In Exodus 10:19, wind brought a plague of locusts in Egypt. It was a wind that blew all night which caused the Red Sea to split so the Isrealites could escape Pharoah. When they were hungry in the desert, God caused a wind to blow quail off course and straight into the cooking fires of the Israelites in Numbers 11:31. The references to wind went on and on. In each case, it showed God’s strength, power and might as He protected His people. All except for one curious passage.
In 1 Kings 19:9-13, The prophet Elijah is running for his life. Jezebel has demanded his life and Elijah’s only recourse was to hide in the desert. God has sent his angels to watch over him and lead him to a safe place to rest. While hiding in a cave on Mount Horeb, God speaks to him. God directs Elijah to “go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about the pass by.” A wind so powerful it tears the mountains apart roars by, but God is not present in that wind. An earthquake shakes the mountain, but God is not there. A fire came, yet still, God is not there. Finally, a gentle whisper and God speaks. The class and I looked at these verses and wondered why God used the might of nature to show Himself earlier, yet here makes a point out of not being in the impressive storm, quake or fire. While theologians with much more knowledge than I have written of Elijah’s mountaintop experience, I purposely kept things simple and told the class that one of the things that God was doing was to give a foreshadowing of Jesus. Yes, He certainly can use the power of the natural world to get our attention, but I really do think that here, He is letting us see that the time is coming when He will change the relationship with mankind and we will be able to have a personal relationship in which communication will include a quiet vioce speaking into our souls. Prayer will become a conduit of that voice and a two -way conversation with the LORD that did not normally happen in Elijah’s time.
With the exception of Elijah’s story, God has used wind in the Old Testament as a symbol of his power and for the defense of his people. I didn’t bring it up in class as we were running out of time, but there are also numerous verses that speak of wind separating wheat from chaff. This is used as a picture of how God will cause the enemies of Israel to be scattered before them. There are other references to wind as something to be feared but those references were outnumbered by the verses in which God uses the imagery of wind for His glory.
Next we turned to the New Testament. I settled on only two references in the New Testament though there were many to choose from. We looked at Mark 4:39 where Jesus stilled the wind and waves for his frightened disciples. This wind has caused dangerous conditions for the men as they sailed but Jesus calms their fears as he stops the waves. This and other wind references in the New Testament, use wind as a danger to be protected from and which Jesus is able to control. God is still using wind to show his power but in a different way. Here He is controlling dangerous situations to protect his people.
Lastly we read James 1:6 which uses wind as a metaphor to show how doubts can cause you to be tossed about as a man with no stable base for his life, a dangerous situation indeed. This led to discussion of what winds are blowing today that may cause the base of your life to be unstable. What problems might you be dealing with? What doubts might you have, often caused by the shifting winds of our present culture. Look at any magazine cover, newspaper, movies or TV shows and you will see that what is considered PG today was not just a few years ago. And this slippery slope of morality continues to erode away under us. That is the wind that we are battling today and my students are right in the thick of that battle. The class and I were able to engage in some great discussions and they were asking thoughtful questions.
I had one more story for the class, a personal one. Most of my students were born just after the infamous 9/11 terrorist attack on our country. I shared with them my memories of the day and how it changed our country’s perception of safety and taught us fear. But I remember vividly what happened one year later. There was much concern as the one year anniversary approached that there might be another attack. That morning as my kids and I stood at the end of the driveway waiting for the school bus we were buffeted by a crazy wind that was the result of a low pressure system meeting a storm to the south of us. Not a drop of rain – but we had bright blue skies with incredibly high winds that had my young children holding on for dear life as we waited for that bus. As I stood there, trying to help them stand up under their backpacks, I couldn’t help but think that God was sending us a message. It seemed to say, “Don’t worry. Though you are scared, I am still in control. Just see how mighty my wind can be.” It was strangely comforting. Later that morning, several other moms called me and we all were amazed that we had gotten the same thought as we were standing in that whirlwind of a bustop with our kids. “Don’t worry, I am still here. I will protect my children”. Whether He is showing us His mighty arm or quieting us to hear his words, He is God and windy days are times to think on Him who holds the winds at the four corners of the earth. Think of his might, his protection, his quiet voice. Remember that he is still here. From Elijah’s whirlwind to the storms of the Galilean seas to the wind patterns tracked by the Weather Channel today, He is still here, controlling everything from a spring breeze to hurricane’s howl. He is here. Emmanuel.