I spent one summer, many years ago, up in the Canadian Arctic. I never crossed the
One thing I learned is that the wind in that territory really knows how to blow! During the few weeks of summer that far north, it’s not too awfully bad, but the rest of the year is known for strong and steady winds; we measured some at over 60 MPH. Those winds are relentless, they’re penetrating, and they’re merciless.
Out in the wilderness like that, one is tempted to try to find shelter from such a wind, but there is none. The tallest trees are measured in inches, not feet, and the highest mountain is a gentle slope to a 20’ summit. There is nowhere to hide from the wind.
There are only three ways to respond to the wind in those kinds of circumstances:
- You can lean into the wind. It won’t be easy going, but you can put your head down, squint your eyes, and face into the wind. If you hope to have any control over your progress, this is the only way to get around If you’re living in a tent (like I was), then the only option is aim the front of the tent, the tent door, into the wind, and open the door (zipper) just a bit. The wind will blow into the tent, expanding it to twice its normal cubic capacity, and – if you have staked it down properly – it will lock it into its place on the landscape.
- If you face the tent away from the wind or (heaven forbid) crosswise to the wind, prepare to get up in the middle of the night to gather what belongings you can find from across the landscape.
- You can turn your back on the wind. With your back to the wind, you find yourself pushed wherever the wind is blowing towards, out of control, of the camp, and usually towards the nearest body of icy water. You can’t see any better with your back to the wind, and its icy tendrils find your sensitive skin just as quickly. The effort to protect yourself is wasted, and eventually, you have to turn around, face into the wind, and work your way back to where you started from.
There have been a number of prophetic words about winds coming into our lives: winds of change, refining winds, winds of revival. These winds of the Spirit are relentless, they’re penetrating, and they’re merciless.
We will be tempted to try to find shelter from such winds, but there is none. There is nowhere to hide from these winds. One word says, “Because of a lack of understanding some of My people will try to find shelter from the Wind, but in so doing, they shall miss My work.” If we hide from the wind, we miss what God is doing.
There are only two ways to deal with the winds in these kinds of circumstances:
- We can lean into the wind. We can set our face like flint towards the wind that God is blowing at us, embrace the change, the refining, the revival as uncomfortable as it is. If we face into the wind, and open ourselves up to this thing that God is doing, we’ll find ourselves expanding in our capacity for what God is doing, inflated by the Spirit of God, and if we have anchored ourselves properly in Christ, we’ll be locked into our destiny by the very wind that we expected to destroy us.
- If we work at cross purposes to these winds, we’ll find ourselves waking up at some point to find our work strewn across the landscape, running to gather what shards remain.
- Or we can turn our back on the wind. If we face away from the wind, we will find ourselves pushed all over the place, out of control, and away from fellowship. We’ll be unable to see what is coming toward us or to see where we are being blown to, but it won’t be where we want to. Our efforts to dodge the work that God is doing will only serve to keep us in His processes longer in order to learn our lessons, and eventually, we’ll need to turn around, embrace the work He’s doing, and work our way back to where we started from.
What does this look like, leaning into the wind. It looks like embracing whatever God is doing in your life, in your community, and doing it without regard for personal cost. If He’s bringing winds of change, then we let go of the old ways – remembering the lessons we’ve learned there – and we embrace the new thing that God is doing (which is not the same as the latest trend in church growth techniques). If he’s bringing a season of refining, then it means that we embrace refining: we open ourselves for correction and conviction, knowing that some of what we hear will good and some will be false accusations. If He’s bringing revival, then we embrace revival, we look for any shred of the Spirit of God in the new and strange movement, and we ignore the odd noises, odd behaviors, odd theologies (excepting actual heresy, which we are very slow to judge) that the new movement exhibits.
Leaning into the wind means embracing what God is doing, whether it’s comfortable or not. It means ordering our lives so that we rely on the new and perhaps unusual thing that God is doing. It means not defending ourselves, our ministry, our beliefs, in the face of all that God is doing. It means that when we’re under the Spirit’s surgeon’s scalpel, that we look our surgeon in the face and ask Him to cut deep.
The alternative, turning our back to the wind, involves avoiding difficulty, avoiding inconvenience, avoiding discomfort. This lifestyle will end up blowing us all over the map, probably towards the nearest body of icewater.
The winds of God are on us now, winds of change, winds of refining, winds of revival. May we have the courage to lean into the wind.
David McLain, June 2009
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