“The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes…” John 3:8
Reading John 3:8 the other day, the image came to me of a small leaf being wafted up into the air by a breeze, floating along wherever the wind takes it, at the mercy of the airflow. Following Jesus can feel like at times — like being in an airplane that suddenly hits a spot of turbulence and drops down, causing your stomach to do crazy flips.
The wind of the Holy Spirit can also be soothing and gentle, like a rocking chair outside on a porch set in motion by a breezy puff.
As I reflected on this, I thought that when Jesus uses this metaphor of the wind for the action of the Holy Spirit, it serves as a deeper call to trust Him. It is an invitation to lean into the Lord’s plans and purposes for our lives, even when that takes us where we didn’t plan on going. It’s the freedom and flexibility that the Lord desires in us — to be like little children who “go with the flow” and get in the car without knowing the destination.
My reflections reminded me of an incident that happened years ago at a daily Mass at the Lord’s Ranch. We used to sit at two long dining room tables in our main house where Father Thomas would celebrate Mass for us. In our residential houses, we don’t have air conditioning and in the summer when it is very hot, we leave all the windows open. But in the desert area that we live in, a wind storm can kick up suddenly without warning on a calm day and blow through with great gusts of sand and dust. When that happens, everyone scrambles hurriedly around to shut all the windows as the dust and wind whips about. You have to wait until the wind dies down again before you can open the windows again to get some air in the stifling heat.
At this Mass that day, Fr. Rick was teaching on this Scripture, and how we need to be flexible and docile to the Holy Spirit so that He can lead us where He wants to take us. He said, “Following the Holy Spirit in a deeper way can be very messy. He messes up our plans. We have a schedule and we want things to go a certain way. But suddenly the Lord can throw us a curveball that we aren’t expecting. Then we have to decide what to do — go with the new plan or stubbornly try to hang on to our previous plans.”
At that point in the homily, a sudden dust storm kicked up and the wind came rushing through the open windows in the dining room where we were sitting. The pages in our Bibles started flipping erratically, papers swirled about, and a layer of gritty, fine sand covered everything in the blink of an eye. We jumped up and frantically shut windows to keep out the chaos.
When the room was sealed and quiet, Father Thomas started laughing. “Just like that,” he said, “the wind blows where it wills. We weren’t expecting that, we weren’t ready for it, but the Lord sent that wind because He wanted to. It perfectly illustrates what I was talking about.”
I don’t think any of us there that day forget the lesson. Are we open and willing to have our plans messed up and thrown into disarray so that God’s plans can come forth?
As we are willing to get un-attached from our plans and go with His plans, even when they feel messy and chaotic, we will discover that His plans are always infintely better.