The Divine Wind

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. John 3:8

The Bible often describes divine agency as a wind. In Genesis 1:2 it is the “mighty wind,” or “spirit of God,” which hovers over the primordial waters and brings a new world into being. Similarly, in Numbers 11:31 “a wind from the Lord” brings quail for the Israelites to eat, and in Psalm 107:25 the Lord commands the stormy wind. John 3:8, as quoted above, captures the essence of the wind’s mysterious nature, and states that those who are animated by this force are, likewise, mysterious in their nature. I have written on the importance of embracing the mysterious nature of the Divine in a previous post. In this post I want to focus on the wind as a tactile, or perhaps even kinaesthetic, reminder of the divine presence.

Christians refer to the divine presence through the concept of the Holy Spirit, or Holy Wind. (Throughout the Bible the term “wind,” denoted by the Greek word pneuma and the Hebrew word ruach, are the words which are translated as “spirit” in the terms “Spirit of God” and “Holy Spirit” in our English translations). The Bible doesn’t say much about what this Holy Spirit does, but, like the spirit or wind of the Lord in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit seems to describe divine agency in the world. According to the New Testament, the Holy Spirit gives life, teaches, guides, comforts, challenges, empowers, and sponsors the virtues of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and unity. It seems significant to me that the Bible describes divine agency through the concept of wind or breath.

According to Acts chapter 2:1-4, on the Day of Pentecost a “mighty wind” came from “heaven,” filled the room in which Jesus’ disciples are staying, “and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” Being “filled with Holy Spirit” manifested itself through boldness, a new skill of trans-lingual communication, and the virtues listed in the previous paragraph. In the Pentecostal tradition, the experience of being “filled with the Holy Spirit” is not a one-off historical experience enjoyed by Jesus’ disciples, but a spiritual phenomenon that can be experienced by everyone.

Personally, I find the sensation of the breeze on my skin a useful aid to experiencing the divine presence. Often when I feel the breeze it sends a shiver, I guessed I could call it, down my spine as I find myself being invited into an experience of divine love. Now, I’m not suggesting that the breeze can function in exactly the same way for everyone, but I suspect this kind of experience is fairly widespread on account of the way various biblical authors speak about the wind as divine agency.




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