FACING THE ELEMENTS
THE WINDS OF TIME
By Rayola Kelley
Last month I spoke about the days we live in but they are not a surprise to our sovereign Lord. God has total say over what happens, the authority to put limitations on it, the power to use it, and the final word as to the end results. God is never shocked by what happens, thrown off His plan, stopped in His timing, or changed by circumstances.
God is the Great I AM. He is ever present directing our history and working in our present while ensuring the future. The matters of the past are pieces of the puzzle that He will cause to fall into place and the challenges of the present are the means of preparation for what is so in light of His eternal plan. It is clear that the puzzle pieces are nicely falling into place and it appears as if we are watching some of the prophetic events of Revelation being played out in living color before our very eyes.
It is exciting, disconcerting, and a bit overwhelming to watch various prophetic events unfold. It is obvious that God’s sovereignty makes Him mysterious, but because He never steps outside of who He is, His ways can become understandable and His insertion into the present discernable. He has given us His Word of truth as a complete picture of what we need to know to stand, His Spirit to withstand with authority, and His power to continue to stand and endure in light of eternal, unchanging promises.
He uses the earthly elements to reveal our state of affairs as a nation and church, trials as a test to reveal the quality of our faith and the depth of our character, and emotional upheaval as tools to take care of rough edges of carnality, smooth uneven surfaces of compromise, and polish away spiritual dullness in order to bring out His reflection (Romans 8:29).
When I think of the elements of this world, the one I think of first is the wind. Jesus related the wind to the Holy Spirit in John 3:8. Wind is like the breath of God. It is unseen but you can feel it when it moves and hear it when it makes its presence known, but you can’t control it or corner it. It is not that wind has a mind of its own, but it has a course to follow to fulfill its purpose.
We are told that God put breath in the first man, making him a living soul (Genesis 2:7). In a way it is as if wind serves as the breath of earth itself. It brings with it the changes of weather to ensure the earth inhales that which ensures life, while exhaling that which maintains life.
There are many different winds that blow through people’s lives and in many ways these winds prove beneficial, but in other ways they can become formidable, life changing and at times destructive. For example, I love the sweet breezes that refresh my spirit when I need relief from some intense element, but I shudder at the cold indifferent winds of winter. Every time I think of the cool breezes, I think of the first man, Adam. According to Genesis 3:8 he would walk with his Creator in the cool of the day. Even though the environment was perfect due to the continual mist that watered the whole face of the earth, I sometimes imagine there had to be a nice little breeze that served as an unseen breath that would so gently and evenly spread these small droplets of water throughout the garden (Genesis 2:6). The Song of Solomon also mentions the cold north wind blows upon the garden of spices to establish them, followed by the sweet south wind that would encourage them to bloom and produce flavors and fragrances that would enhance the garden (Song of Solomon 4:16).
We are told that there would be what I would term “cold hearts” in the end of the last days (Matthew 24:12). Hearts that have been rendered indifferent by a lack of love, closed down by the great fears instigated by turbulent times and the darkness of violence and hatred that abound. However, the cold winds point to a season of regeneration, a time for the south winds of the sweet Spirit to come and blow upon the garden of man’s heart, and those who are truly heirs of salvation will experience the thawing of the landscape of their lifeless gardens (Titus 3:5). Once the south wind thaws the heart, it will allow for a place of repentance, and the rising of life-sustaining mist from brokenness, as a means to bring forth the spices that have been established as seeds in the cold, dark, wet ground of a hard (rebellious) and stony (selfish) heart.
As we enter this new season of regeneration, we can’t help but think of how Jesus came as God’s Passover Lamb to be offered upon the altar of the cross. In the garden of Gethsemane, He sweat great drops of the self-life onto the ground; at Gabbatha He stood silent as the judgment leveled at us was charged to His account so that He could become our substitute on the altar of the cross. As He made His way to the altar, each step He took left that life-flowing source of blood behind, blood that marked a new covenant for those seeking hope, blood that established a place of peace and reconciliation for those who turned back to God and repented, blood that in the end would open fountains of cleansing for those whose spirits needed to be revived, consciences that were soiled by guilt, and for souls who were enslaved by wrappings of decaying ruin by the profane ways of the world, the vanity of self-efforts, and the foolishness of man’s logic (Matthew 27:26-43; Luke 22:41-44; Luke 23:26; John 19:10-19; Ephesians 2:12-18; Colossians 1:20-22; Hebrews 10:19-22; 1 John 1:7).
On the first day of the week, early in the morning after the terrible ordeal of the cross of Christ three days earlier, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb to anoint Jesus for His burial. Keep in mind Jesus was already anointed for His burial by Mary, the sister of Lazarus, the one Jesus raised from the grave. The fact that He was anointed reveals that He would rise from the grave before they could perform this rite. In fact, His body would not see corruption (Matthew 26:6-13; John 12:1-7; 20:1; Acts 13:35-39). Jesus came to Bethany on the sixth day, and at supper, which would mark the fifth day for the Jews (they counted a day from evening to evening) before the Passover, He was anointed. According to tradition the Passover lambs, were anointed on the fifth day before they were offered up as sacrifices. If Jesus was designated as God’s Passover Lamb five days before His crucifixion and He spent three nights and three days in the grave, His resurrection would mark the eighth day since He was set apart by anointing as the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. The number “5” points to grace, the number “3” to completion and the number “8” to new beginnings.
Jesus is referred to as the first fruits of those who sleep. This is in reference to those who die in faith. Jesus was the first to rise with a new glorified body and in due time all saints would be raised with their new glorified bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-56). He is also the firstborn of a new creation (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23). Out of the death of God’s Lamb came life, a new, everlasting, glorious life and those who receive this new life will become part of a new creation, a new family, and an everlasting kingdom.
This brings us back to Adam walking in the cool of the day with God. It is important to point out that what brings out the spices of the garden of one’s heart is communion with God, waking up to partake of Him in sweet fellowship and then walking with Him in the evening when the day is coming to an end and all work ceases. The quiet times of the soul is when we can walk in the midst of the fragrance present because of the life of Christ in us. After all, it is His life in us that serves as a sweet savor to God (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). This is why I love those breezes in my spiritual life. They cause the fragrance of true worship to reach the corridors of heaven on the winds of praise and in turn, God sends forth the sweet breeze and dew of His Spirit to quicken the spirit and satisfy the soul. Therefore, communion is like the breath of God that enfolds you into a blessed time of fellowship.
I believe that times of fellowship with God have been drowned out by the busyness and noise of the world. As Americans we have so many vain things that can fill our time that we can easily become like a dried-up wasteland. This is when I think of wind being an oxymoron in both the physical and spiritual realm. When the day is blistering, instead of the wind cooling the sweat on your brow, it feels hot and it leaves a dirty stain wherever your sweat dries. The water in such a spiritual wasteland becomes stagnant and the environment void of any fruitful life.
In such an environment I have found myself looking for relief, but there is none to be found. I look for some means to create shade for myself, but the wasteland exposes the ineptness of my character and my inability to change the landscape. I have to admit, I do everything I can to get out of the physical wasteland away from the dry, windy elements, but I have been slow in the past from looking up to the Lord to deliver me out of a spiritual wasteland during my spiritual journey. At such times I have wrestled with the idea of having to humble myself before God and admit I am in a spiritual wasteland because I did not value the Water of His Word, I took for granted the breath of His life, and was ungrateful for the sweet breezes of His Spirit.
There are also annoying winds that come our way. I appreciate the breezes, but when I encounter irksome winds, I become agitated. The breezes revive, but those grating winds are another matter altogether. They are not gentle; but exasperating. They blow dirt, along with unattached, light articles around, (including your hairdo in spite of the amount of hairspray you may have used) which creates a mess. They do not appear to be doing much of anything except be a nuisance. The only phenomena they might create are dust devils when the dust is caught up by the wind’s unseen force into a miniature tornado that appears as if dancing to an inaudible rhythm.
You know that underneath these types of winds there might be a purpose, but on the surface they don’t seem to have any real reason or direction behind them except to test your patience. As a child I lived in a place that was windy. It was flat and for the most part desert. The people of the area through much effort turned it into farmland, and what I learned about the terrain is that the wind had nothing to buffer it. There were no elevated areas or forests to hinder the wind. At times it would be powerful enough to enfold the landscape into a dustbowl, often moving top soil from one field to the next.
There is another type of wind that is more than irritating, and it will test your endurance and possibly bring you to a breaking point. It is a wind that will push you in every direction, except for the one you are heading in. It will force you to face elements regardless of if you want to or not. In a way you either face it or perish because of it. You can’t get away from it and there is no safe haven to escape to. It will bring you to a place of crying for mercy or for death because there is no resolve left to face it, no strength to endure it any longer, and no means to change its buffeting forces.
We see this contrary wind in operation a couple of times in the case of the disciples. They were battling winds and waves that kept them from getting to their destination. Even in spite of the great toiling of human effort, in such winds and waves a boat could easily enough sink and it is natural to think at such times this surely can’t be my end, but the elements are overpowering, creating doubt. Both incidents show that the solution to enable one to face and get through such challenging times is faith.
In one incident Jesus was in the boat asleep. At such times it appears as if the Lord is asleep, unaware of the seriousness of the situation, but when we choose the way of faith, we know that He is not asleep; rather He is in control and that our faith is being tested as to whether we simply believe what the Lord has declared and promised. In another situation, He came to His disciples. This time Peter got out of the boat, and as long as Peter did not look at the storm, but focused on Jesus, he remained sure-footed even in the midst of moving water. In such challenging winds, it becomes obvious that until Jesus rebukes the storms in our lives, we will continue to be hindered by these winds, but we can be assured that it is temporary.
This wind even has a name. It is called Euroclydon (Acts 27:14). Contrary winds buffeted Paul much in his missionary journeys, but when it came to his journey to Rome, he encountered a tempestuous wind. In this wind the sailors could not bear up under the force of it; therefore, they let the wind drive the ship. Those on the ship had to labor to keep the vessel from becoming shipwrecked on a sand bar or upon the rocks. They even had to throw the cargo overboard to keep it afloat in the midst of being tossed to and fro. It was as if they were enfolded in some endless time warp because they saw neither stars nor sun. A blanket of hopelessness enfolded them as despair became their companion and the darkness of death nipped at their heels. The uncertainty was no doubt terrifying, and one time the shipmen were ready to flee in a smaller boat and leave the prisoners, which included Paul, to the inevitable fate of being swallowed up by the waves. But Paul’s instructions were clear, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved” (Acts 27:31).
To me, this wind describes the days we are living in. It is not simply irritating winds hitting this nation, testing the resolve of people, but it is the contrary, tempestuous winds created by the age we live in. It is clear people are being tossed to and fro by many factors such as the darkness of deception, the winds of heresies, the gloominess of despair, and unseen forces that are gripping man with uncertainty and terror (Ephesians 4:14). Hope seems far away or missing altogether. The natural logic would be to find any way of escape, even if it means leaving the defenseless and vulnerable to go down with the ship.
The tempestuous winds are to remind Christians that we can’t always make it through these types of testing with things that weigh us down and prevent us from advancing forward. Our life is hidden in Christ who is our ark (Colossians 3:3). It is in Christ that we are saved, and to “jump ship” due to grave testing is unthinkable. Whether it is the stuff of this world, sins that beset us, lies that keep us anchored to false hope, or despair over circumstances, we must be willing by faith to cast that which weighs us down to keep from being shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19). We must trust the Holy Spirit to bring us through the storm to a place of rest.
The final winds are the destructive winds of judgment. These winds no doubt existed during the great flood. I have made mention of this time in last month’s article, but think about the upheaval created by the earth breaking open by the waters and the winds rushing in. We know about the spiritual condition that existed during the days of Noah. The Bible is clear the end of the last days will be like Noah’s day. There will be “normalcy,” but it will cover great spiritual darkness.
Job 22:15-18 gives us some interesting insight into the days before the flood. Here we read that the old ways were marked which men had trodden down. These men were taken out by the flood because they declared that since the Lord could do nothing of value for them that He needed to depart from them. They failed to recognize that it was God who had filled their houses with good things. We are told in Ezekiel 16:48-50 that the people of Sodom were prideful, idle, and indifferent to the poor and needy because of their worldly abundance. Since the prideful see themselves as self-sufficient, one of the greatest fruits of pride is ingratitude towards God.
People who see themselves as self-sufficient have no real need for God. They believe that they can get what they have need of if they maintain their independence, work hard enough, are clever in their dealings, “Scrooges” with their resources, and learn to play the game of the world to get ahead. However, to be independent of God means to be rebellious towards Him, and to work hard without acknowledging that it is God who must bless man’s attempts is to ultimately taste the vanity, consequences, and judgment of it in the end.
It is clear that the winds of time reveal where man is spiritually. The cool breezes point to regeneration and fellowship, while the annoying, hindering winds point to the testing of one’s faith and character. The tempestuous contrary wind is about personal separation and preparation while staying in the ark of safety, and the winds of judgment point to God’s wrath of humbling and separating the sufficient, foolish wicked to the place of judgment.
As we as believers approach Resurrection Sunday, let us remember, since we are in the Ark of Christ because of His redemption, we have nothing to fear regardless of the winds that are affronting us. God will one day stand up and command the irritating, contrary, tempestuous, and destructive winds to stop, and those who have been anchored to the Rock, hiding within the safety of the ark, and trusting the current of the Holy Spirit will find themselves entering into a glorious new world.