John 3:8 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.
When I used to train for distance triathlons the majority of training hours were spent on my bike. Time that I spent pumping my pedals equated to more speed and more endurance – there was no short cut. One of the challenges I faced was wind. Even cyclists who moved into our area all embraced the same name calling it “Windy Waterloo”. If you have ever biked into the wind you will know that it kills momentum and makes rides much longer. I would strategically start long rides by heading out into the wind so that when I made the turnaround I had a favorable tailwind to bring my tired body home. This strategy generally worked but I recall a few times where I had spent more than an hour slugging up and down hills into the wind only to have the wind change direction at the turnaround. It resulted in an entire workout of cycling into the wind which was brutal. Although I could not see the wind, there was no question it was there, and it was powerful.
Today’s scripture is a key one. At the beginning of John 3 we read that a member of the Jewish rulers, Nicodemus, came to visit Jesus “at night”. Jesus was hated by the Jewish rulers, but Nicodemus knew there was something special about Jesus and that God was with him (John 3:2). He was intrigued but still feared the other rulers so snuck in to speak with Jesus at night. Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being “born again”, a concept that Nicodemus could not understand. Jesus then introduces him to the concept of the Holy Spirit. He instructs Nicodemus that no one can enter the “Kingdom of God” unless they are born of water and Spirit (John 3:5-7). And it is here where Jesus introduces the analogy of the wind.
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 3:8)
In English, wind and Spirit are two different words, but in Greek they are the same word: pneuma. So the Holy Spirit is not some predictable force, nor one which can be directed. Even those who are able to harness the wind, like sailors, can only use the winds that are given to them and only easily sail in directions that the wind takes them. When we acknowledge that we are sinners and are separated from God because of sin (Romans 3:23, 6:23); when we recognize that Jesus Christ died on the cross for those sins, to reconcile us with God (John 3:16), and that he is the only way to God and eternal life (John 14:6); and we confess we are sinners and invite Jesus into our lives (1 John 1:9), we are then Christians, and as Jesus said, we are “born again”. At this time, we are promised that the Holy Spirit enters us (Ephesians 1:13-14).
If we are living lives in tune with our loving father in heaven, which happens through prayer and the reading of his Holy Scripture, we live lives that are led by the Holy Spirit. This may often mean being blown in directions we would not choose for ourselves or walking on paths we don’t desire to traverse, but they will be exciting paths filled with a “peace that transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). I am certain that Paul and Silas would not have chosen to be arrested and beaten for casting a demonic spirit out of a girl, but the Holy Spirit had a plan and we see that as a result the jailor and his entire family became Christians (Acts 16:16-34). Being “led by the Spirit” will not always be pleasant, but it will undoubtably lead to the greatest joy and peace you will ever experience. Choose to live a life led by the wind.