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At times the spirit moves like wind

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The wind kicked up last night and I took a minute to watch it work. It stirred the stems on the trumpet vines, twirled a leaf or two, pushed wisps of snow around.

The wind is nature's animator. It brings everything alive.

Perhaps that's the reason — in Bible times the word for "wind" and the word for "spirit" were the same word: pneuma. The wind and the spirit set things in motion.

The "rushing wind" in the Book of Acts is really a "spirit wind" blowing. And when Jesus tells Nicodemus the wind blows where it will, he was also talking about the movement of the spirit. Being moved by the spirit often means more than being "emotionally moved." It can mean being literally shoved into action — the way the wind gusted those stems and leaves about.

As a kid, I would sometimes spread my arms and let the wind toss me where it wanted — like a human kite.

Now, my impulse is to resist the wind — to spread my feet, lean forward and fight against it. I don't have time to let the wind work on me. I have things to do, places to go. I have a schedule and an agenda. I no longer have time to let the wind decide my fate.

Sadly, I often take that same defiant stance against the "spirit wind" when it blows — when I feel those promptings and pushes that would send me places I'd rather avoid.

Turning yourself over to another force and letting yourself go is never easy.

It means surrendering control.

It means you must become more pliable — not more rigid — when the push comes.

It means becoming a child again and riding the waves of the wind.

I know people who ride on the "spirit wind" every day — people who let themselves be carried by spiritual thrusts. I'm not one of them, however, at least not as often as I'd like to be. Perhaps it's because I see where that wind often takes such people.

Yes, sometimes the "spirit wind" may push people out of harm's way, or direct them to a treasure. But, in my experience, more times than not, the people who ride that wind get propelled into other people's problems.

The wind blows them into the middle of racial battles and family squabbles, where they serve as peacemakers.

Where there's hunger and fear, the wind drives them to the rescue.

They become lifeboats in the storm.

And most of the time, those "wind-riders" get no credit at all.

Last week, for instance, I called a young woman on the spur of the moment to tend a room full of cranky toddlers. I could tell she was tired. And I know she had other plans. But it was a crisis. And as I talked with here, I could hear that "spirit wind" pushing her.

I know that compared to flying food to Pakistan, baby sitting seems like a small thing. But it wasn't small to her, however, and it wasn't small to me.

To her credit, she let the breeze take her.

The best, I've found, almost always do.

I suppose they feel if they ignore the wind, it might abandon them. And without the wind, we'd all be dead in the water — like stranded sailboats.

They're right to think that, of course.

As I said, I saw the wind breathe life into those stems and leaves.

E-mail: jerjohn@desnews.com