Yesterday the weather was dangerously hot. One of those late summer days that make you long for a cool fall breeze. The weather report was forecasting a change overnight. We could expect the temperatures to drop nearly 20 degrees with a brisk wind. Sure enough, when I awoke this morning, I could feel the difference. We quickly opened the windows to let the coolness inside. I stood in my backyard buffeted by a wind that sent leaves and small branches skittering across the grass and blew my hair all over my face.
Today is September 11th. A day of sadness for the loss our country endured fifteen years ago. A day to remember the courage of those who rushed in to help. A day to pray for those who have carried on without loved ones. The images and emotions of 9/11/2001 are permanently etched in my mind. Our nation pauses on this day each year to remember, to reflect and to look forward. But, this morning, because of that crazy weather front and its wind coming on the heels of such a hot day, I found myself remembering not 15 years ago but 14 years ago on the one year anniversary of the worst terror attack in our nation’s history. Here’s a bit of what I wrote that day:
I’m not a meteorologist, but if I understand it correctly, it was a combination of a hurricane named Gustav and a high-pressure front that set up an unusual weather pattern over the New York area that day. It had been oppressively hot and humid for two days prior, like something was coming, something big. On the third day the wind started to pick up. I wondered if God, who like to show His glory on third days, was up to something. My daughter commented that it seemed a little chilly that morning with the slight wind playing around her ankles as we waited for her 8am school bus. By noontime, as my son and I waited for his afternoon kindergarten bus, the wind was so strong that we had to move from the open driveway to the protective cover of the east side of the house. By this time, the wind was whipping in from the west and knocking over anything and everything in its path, there would be stories the next day of trees and power line down, even a tragic fatality caused by a falling branch. That day the wind was the fiercest and strongest wind that I had ever seen come howling out of a clear, bright, blue sky. That day there was no rain or even a dark cloud on the horizon. That day the sky was an incredible turquoise color with puffy white clouds racing across it.
The powerful wind reminded me of God’s power and I imagined that He was protectively wrapping Himself around the entire tristate area, letting His children know that He was still there. From the beginning, when God breathed life into Adam, He has used the illustration of either wind or breath to describe life in the Holy Spirit. Job talked of the breath of God as not only life-giving, but as life sustaining (Job 34:14-15). The resurrected Christ breathed His spirit into his apostles as He sent them out (John 20:22). Paul describes the very breath of Jesus as defeating enemies (2 Thessalonians2:8). The word used in these verses is either “neshamah” or “ruwach” in Hebrew and “pneuma” in the Greek. All three words mean literally a breath or wind, sometimes even a “violent exhalation or wind”. Jesus, Himself, used the term translated as wind in the third chapter of John.
Perhaps God was making a visible show of his constant presence that day fourteen years ago. Perhaps he was doing that again this morning. Maybe God just wanted us to know that He was with us then and He is still here now. We need only to look up to His impossibly blue skies to feel the breath of His Spirit in the wind and know that our God is with us – always and forever.