I love my times in sailboats, except when the wind deserts. Sometimes you can see the wind all around you; you can see the movement on the water in the distance, the other boats with sails full, and the clouds moving steadily above you. Nothing, however, is more discouraging than to see the effects of the wind, without feeling the energy. Without the wind, the mainsail and jib hang limp and you drift without direction. With the wind, you have a course to set, sails to trim, and decisions to make.
On the sailboat your energy is not in the sails, your energy is in the wind.
The faith journey is a lot like sailing. There are times when we see the power of God all around us, we see his wonders in others, we hear the stories of rescue and healing and redemption; but we don’t feel the energy. We drift, anticipating his power, while growing tired of waiting. And, it seems to some of us, that we have been waiting all our lives.
The Hebrews had been slaves in Egypt for generations. They had grown weary of waiting. Then “out of the blue” God rocked their world and everything changed. Day after day, God was in the headlines and uncertainty began to fill the air. They found themselves in the middle of God’s great relocation and rebuilding project. They had heard the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but knew next to nothing about the God of their forefathers.
Now a shepherd named Moses claims to know God’s name. He introduces them to the God they are not sure they wanted to know. Fear and panic filled the camp. Even with the magic cloud in their sights, the people refused to see past their fear. It seemed they were trapped at the sea.
Finally, Moses raised his staff and stretched out his hands over the sea. “All that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned the sea into dry land. The waters were divided…” (Exodus 14:21). Did you get it? Wait for it…the wind blew all night. They could feel it, though they couldn’t see it. The power wasn’t in the stick Moses held, the power was in the wind.
That morning must have been one of the most dramatic dawns ever. God’s wind had invaded the impossible.
God’s power is never in our position, or skills, or strengths, or resources; the power is always in HIS Spirit (His wind). And his Spirit is still working wonders. His wind is still blowing.
God’s writing new chapters, calling people home, and rescuing others from far countries. Do you feel it?
Wind can also make you dry and thirsty. It can call your name and move you to action. John Eldredge shared this parable years ago in The Journey of Desire, but the meaning is like a breeze that refreshes endlessly.
Once upon a time there lived a sea lion who had lost the sea. He lived in a country known as the barren lands. High on a plateau, far from any coast, it was a place so dry and dusty that it could only be called a desert. A kind of coarse grass grew in patches here and there, and a few trees were scattered across the horizon. But mostly, it was dust. And sometimes wind, which together make one very thirsty. Of course, it must seem strange to you that such a beautiful creature should wind up in a desert at all. He was, mind you, a sea lion. But things like this do happen. How the sea lion came to the barren lands, no one could remember. It all seemed so long ago. So long, in fact, it appeared as though he had always been there. Not that he belonged in such an arid place. How could that be? He was, after all, a sea lion. But as you know, once you have lived in a certain spot, no matter how odd, you come to think of it as home.
There was a time, many years back, when the sea lion knew he was lost. In those days, he would stop every traveler to see if he might help him find his way back to the sea.
But no one seemed to know the way.
On he searched, but never finding. After years without success, the sea lion took refuge beneath a solitary tree beside a very small water hole. The tree provided refuge from the burning rays of the sun, which was very fierce in that place. And the water hole, though small and muddy, was wet, in its own way. Here he settled down to go on as best he could.
In the evenings he would sit upon his favorite rock and view the country. On a good night he could catch the faint smell of salt air. He just knew the sea was calling to him. But the day finally came when he stopped going to his rock altogether, and he no longer lifted his nose to the wind when the sea breeze blew.
It was May when the wind began to blow. Day and night it came, howling across the barren lands. For forty days and forty nights the wind blew. And then just as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped.
Every leaf of the shade tree was gone and the water hole was completely dry.
Three weeks after the wind ceased to blow, the sea lion had a dream. Now, as I told you before, there were other nights in which he had dreamed of the sea. But those were long ago and nearly forgotten. Even still, the ocean that filled his dreams this night was so beautiful and clear, so vast and deep, it was as if he were seeing it for the very first time. The sunlight glittered on its surface, and as he dived, the waters all around him shone like an emerald. If he swam quite deep, it turned to jade, cool and dark and mysterious. But he was never frightened, not at all. For I must tell you that in his dreams of the sea, he had never before found himself in the company of other sea lions. This night there were many, round about him, diving and turning, spinning and twirling. They were playing. Oh, how he hated to wake from that wonderful dream. The tears running down his face were the first wet thing he had felt in three weeks. But he did not pause even to wipe them away, he did not pause, in fact, for anything at all. He set his face to the East, and he began to walk as best a sea lion can.
“Where are you going,” asked the tortoise?
”I am going to find the sea.”
Moses was drawn to God’s presence by a burning bush. He took a step toward the unknown and God did everything else. Are you tired of waiting and wishing? What are you waiting for? Energy? Power? Thirst?
Take a step. Leave the fear and frustrations behind and feel the energy, expect the power, and watch God’s Spirit work unexpected and even some undesired wonders.
This week when a friend asks, “So, what’s happening?”
Say, “The wind has changed, I’m stepping into the unknown. I’m going to find the God who is calling my name.”