”You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”—John 3:7-8
Have you noticed the wind blowing this past week? That was a rhetorical question; of course you did because it was really ferocious. I prayed, as I’m sure you did, that there would not be damage, and I also prayed that it would quiet down or stop, but…. I did start thinking, though, about how much God has healed and transformed me. I was not afraid of this wind. Let me share a story with you that you probably have heard before, but don’t stop me, it’s one of my favorites.
When I was a young woman in my mid-twenties, I started having severe panic attacks. They started with post-partum depression, in addition to situations that were out of my control, and continued for almost 10 years. The weird thing was that my panic was associated with wind and tornadoes—I was terribly afraid of those. I had lived in windy places all of my life so this didn’t make sense. I wasn’t panicking all of the time, but when the wind started blowing, watch out. I would stand at the window and watch to see if blades of grass or leaves on the trees were moving. If so, I would head for the basement. I had medication and some counselling which helped a little, but for the first five years, I was pretty much housebound. And I was afraid of God.
Around the end of this 10 year period, our church had a renewal weekend. Also, around this time, our priest and several members of the congregation had experienced what was called in the 70s, the baptism with the Holy Spirit. I wanted this because I knew I needed more Jesus. People prayed for me, nothing dramatic seemed to happen, but we joined a small group, my life started to change and my panic to go away.
Fast forward about 25 years—I was well by then—my mother-in-law came to live with us because she couldn’t be alone. We had never talked about religion but I knew, from her own religious background that she didn’t believe in the experience of being “baptized” with the Holy Spirit. So it was very strange that, one day when I was straitening her room, she said, “You know, when the Holy Spirit gets hold of you, it’s like you have been slammed by a tornado.” That was all she said but I think it was God talking. I realized in an instant that my fear was because I had been afraid of God and I was running from him. He got me anyway. I know now that he never stopped pursuing me, no matter how hard I ran. He loved me too much to stop. Other stories would need telling in order to explain how I came to know this.
I have said before and I will say again, in case you forget in those tough times, “Jesus loves you and there is nothing you can do about it.” He is always with you and he won’t stop even if you run. There is no place where God is not. It’s all about Love—all about Grace. “The wind blows wherever it pleases…so it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” Thanks for listening.