The other day, I was having a casual conversation with someone about the weather. We experience many different kinds of weather here in Minnesota, but the two of us agreed that wind was our least favorite. Upon further reflection, I realized that I liked wind less than sunshine or clouds or rain or snow or any other kind of weather for two reasons: It is unpredictable, and it often brings change.
I remember a day in the Summer of 2019 when my family and some friends were in Glacier National Park. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we were staying at a campsite with a great view of the mountains.We were all set up outside with a little canopy to block the sun. Out of nowhere, a large gust of wind blew through our campsite. Moments later, a second gust almost pulled our canopy out of the ground. We scrambled to take down the canopy, then ran inside our friends’ camper as dark clouds rolled over the mountains like waves and blocked out the sky.
That’s a dramatic example, but I’m willing to bet that most of us can think of a time that wind impacted what we were doing, whether it was something big like a hurricane shutting down a town or something small like a windy day that interrupts a planned, outdoor activity.
With that in mind, I find it interesting that wind is one of the common signs for the Holy Spirit. Jesus even directly compares living a life led by the Holy Spirit to the wind in John 3:8: “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Why would God choose something that seems so chaotic to represent Himself?
Let’s go back to the difficulties I mentioned earlier about wind: Wind is unpredictable, and it often brings change. From what I have heard and experienced, that sounds like a great way to describe the Holy Spirit.
We can see this when the Holy Spirit poured itself out on Jesus’ disciples at Pentecost:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting… All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability (Acts 2:1-4 NRSVCE).
When Jesus’ disciples went to the Upper Room that morning to pray for the Holy Spirit as Jesus had commanded them to, I doubt they were expecting the Holy Spirit to whip around them like a tornado. I bet they were even more surprised when they all started speaking foreign languages, and when they, the men who had abandoned Jesus not two months earlier, went out with courage to proclaim Jesus’ Name to the very people who had crucified Him. What an incredible and unexpected change that the Holy Spirit brought about in them!
In a similar way to what Jesus said about the wind, the Holy Spirit blows where He chooses and we don’t know where He comes from or where He goes. He is unpredictable, and He brings change.
Nonetheless, we are called to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
How is it possible to follow the guidance of One who can seem unpredictable? Jesus answers this for us in John 16:13: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth… and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” In this passage, Jesus tells us not only that we need the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but that He will speak to us. The Holy Spirit will speak to us; we only need to listen.
We can hear the voice of God speak through Scripture, through wise people we know or hear, or through our conscience. The trouble is, when we hear his voice, we don’t always listen. Like walking through the wind, we resist, trying to force our own way rather than go in the direction the wind is blowing. Sometimes, when we don’t see where the Holy Spirit is guiding us, we struggle against Him and choose our own path. While this path may seem better to us initially, the more we resist God’s will, the more difficult and unsatisfying our lives become. It may not always be good to follow the wind wherever it blows, but to follow God and keep His commandments is the best way to love God (see John 14:15).
What happens when we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit rather than the path that we understand? What happens when we look above where logic points and follow the signs God is giving?
This past Spring, as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the world with fear, NET Ministries felt a call to once again gather, train, and send missionaries into a society in need of hope. This would be a daunting task, trying to keep over 100 young adults from around North America healthy while still giving them the proper preparation they need to be effective ministers of Christ love to the increasing population of young people who hunger for it.
Rather than succumb to fear, NET went forward with the year. They invited over 130 missionaries to come, unsure if any would respond. Despite the pandemic, over 130 missionaries chose to give a year of their life in service to the Lord. They each followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit through NET Training, and over 130 missionaries were sent out in September. After several months of ministry at parishes, schools, host homes, and through random conversations, over 130 missionaries are returning to Minnesota for a well-earned Christmas break.
We won’t know the full impact they had over the past few months until we get to Heaven, but I can attest to the fruit I’ve seen both on my visits with the Teams and in the stories I hear told about them. NET followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit into an unpredictable and changing world, and through the chaos of a pandemic, the Holy Spirit continues to bear fruit.
I am amazed to see the Lord’s faithfulness to us as we strive to follow His will. I hope you continue to pursue God’s will more fully as we come to the end of this Advent season and this hectic year. Please continue to pray for NET and our mission; we need your prayers! May God pour out his blessings upon you, and have a Merry Christmas!