Heaven’s Wind

“It’s like wind from heaven is here!” my 9 year old-Ben shouted from the deck last week.  “Mom, you have to come out here, it’s heaven’s wind!” He was right. It was the purest, coolest breeze in the midst of a perfect blue sky. I  was refreshed to breathe in something deeply that was so clean and calming regardless of the chaotic and sickly state of the world. 

On a walk this morning, I thought of this moment and wondered, Is it possible to feel heaven’s wind in the midst of a pandemic? Can you experience peace and breathe deep when everything seems uneasy and bound up? Paul says I should be anxious for nothing but where is God? How much longer will this last?  Big questions are being asked and faith has been stretched these last few months.

Coming off of a strange Easter that wasn’t what I’d hoped for, it has been so easy to see what is wrong here on earth. Yet my little guy was able to encounter something good, something better than good. He sensed heaven in what seems like a bit of hell. 

Despite what is hard right now, I do believe good, God things are happening all around us. Heaven’s wind is still blowing.  I’ve been reading through the Old Testament lately and  I just keep seeing heaven’s wind, God’s goodness, on every page. 

I’ve been struck by these stories and testimonies of God’s faithfulness and steadfast nature, his pursuit of those he loves and his provision for these Israelite children of his. He just keeps showing up, even in the midst of their hard story. There are some lessons that I’m holding on to, that assure me of heaven’s wind today, that help me keep breathing deep when my lungs feel constricted and my belly gets tight.  

1. Nothing can stop His plans: “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones. I will write on them the same words that were on the tablets you smashed.” Exodus 34:1 

There were two sets of ten commandments, both written by the finger of God. Moses destroyed the first set in anger when he saw the sin of the Israelites as he came down the mountain. You see, God writes our story with his finger and we cannot destroy or undo what He has planned… and neither can COVID-19… or our impatience, or our angry words or apathy during this time. We do not have that much power. He will accomplish all he wants to because his wind is always blowing. 

2. He wants to use all who are available and all of our story: “So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.” Joshua 2:1

It was not unusual for Rahab to have strange men in her home. God knew Rahab’s profession was the perfect cover for the Israelite spies who needed somewhere to hide. Rahab knew of the Israelites’ God and believed in His power. She was available to serve and God used the reputation she held as an entertainer of men to preserve his plan. If we will say yes, He will  use us right now with all that we bring to the table. That is heaven’s wind, the goodness and kindness of God for all who are available. He wastes nothing, even the hard parts of our story. 

3. Sometimes He leaves things behind: “These are the nations the Lord left in the land...to test the Israelites…to teach them warfare…the Philistines.” Judges 3:1-6 

The Philistines were left in the land…on purpose…to teach something. This enemy who was left behind by God, led to the great story of David and Goliath. David, the 12 year old boy who knew his God slayed the bear and the lion for him and knew his God would slay a giant Goliath for him. The giant was left behind on purpose to teach something, to grow David’s faith and ultimately glorify God…the slaying of the left behind giant led to David’s place in the palace.

God leaves things behind. Could he have left behind COVID-19 on purpose? To teach us warfare, to strengthen our muscles, to grow our faith? Are there hard parts in our stories, like Rahab, that still trip us up? Have we smashed or wrecked relationships or opportunities like Moses? All of this leaves room for his wind to blow and refresh us…

I’ve needed refreshing in these weird days where I want to be alone but then need to hold my children close. When I’m bored but never have time to do anything. When I’m sad but grateful and afraid but rested. It’s all been very confusing. Sometimes I feel like I have no direction, like I’m floundering, wondering what if my efforts are no good? What if I’m just no good? What if I’m wrong, doing it all wrong? What if it never gets better? What if it doesn’t matter or turn out like I want? What if I’m missing something and then I don’t matter or turn out like He wants. 

When these questions come,  the heaviness sets in. I can feel it in my chest and shoulders..it surprises me, this heaviness, it has no warning, no rsvp…

but then if I pause, find a quiet space and remember, take a breath, there it is…heaven’s wind…

Then Ben runs out on the deck and reminds me…

Then the pages of Deuteronomy and Acts tell me…the boundary lines are chosen for me just as they were for the nomad Israelites that wandered for so long. He chose the portion of land just for them, the place where they would find rest on all sides…

His wind and his word remind me that nothing can stop his plans, that he will use me and my story if I’m available and he leaves some hard things behind to draw me closer…that the boundary lines fall for me in pleasant places…

And then I can breathe, then the peaceful cool wind washes over me…

From the ground up

From the ground up…I heard it this morning upon waking, a thought I knew was not my own.

From the ground up.

Today, good Friday. The day He was placed in the ground. The day of death. 

The time has come for the Son of Man to enter His glory and God will be glorified because of Him.” John 13:31. 

The time has come…Glory began with His death. Death made God brighter. From the ground up. 

You made us from dust and to dust we shall return. From the ground up. 

Spring is here, new life blooming. A rest from winter when all has been buried and stalled. From the ground up. 

Renewing, restoring, redeeming.  All begins below the dark, quiet earth. From the ground up. 

Could it be with all this pain in the world and in our hearts that you are creating something new? 

Could it be that the end of all we know and understand and count on could bring our salvation? 

Could it be that we had to drop to our knees, get low to the floor to find what we have always wanted? 

Could it be you are rebuilding us from the ground up? 

Today, Good Friday, this day of death, feels more real than ever before. More real because grief and loss seem more like neighbors now. 

The time has come…your death brought the most glory, God’s glory. Could our death bring you glory too? Could you resurrect us too from the ground up? 

What happened, Sweet Jesus, in the center of the earth, on that Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday? What happened as all was quiet, waiting and scared…as all hope was lost…and you stayed in the ground for what felt like too long?

This feels like too long, Savior…but we wait and we hope. We can’t wait for Sunday…because from the ground you arose with victory in your hands…and death brought glory…

Yet, we will wait for You…for your promise and your plan, for your rescue and just for you…we wait just for you…from the ground up. 

 

Shelter-in-place

“Whether the cloud stayed above the tabernacle for 2 days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on…so they traveled at the Lord’s command.” Numbers 9:22 

Was this the first “shelter-in-place”? Ha! I read this verse on March 4, before COVID-19 was even real to me. Today our governor issued a shelter-in-place requirement for the state of Georgia which means no outings unless they are considered “essential.” Oh, and he cancelled school for the year.

Around 4:30 today, I took this information in, told the kids, and prepared dinner. My husband wanted to go for a walk after our meal but I just wasn’t up for it. I could feel a difference in my body: tired, achy, cold, exhausted. I told Chris no to the walk and headed upstairs. I wanted a hot shower, chocolate cake and my bed. This virus has taken its toll on so many. I am really not a casualty. I am just uncomfortable, bored and eating a lot more carbs. But I think tonight I could finally feel the physical impact the stress has taken on me.

As I was in my shower tonight, I remembered the verse about the Israelites, “Whether the cloud stayed above the tabernacle for 2 days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on…so they traveled at the Lord’s command.” 

We are here now, right with the Israelites. We must stay in camp. We cannot move outside the Lord’s command. We cannot move until He chooses to change things. 

How does this make you feel, to be so powerless, so vulnerable, so dependent on someone else? The Israelites hated it and complained. They hated the manna and the quail they were miraculously given and the water that came at their request from the rock. Numbers 21 says “the people grew impatient with the long journey” crying out “we are tired of this manna.”

I am impatient and tired of manna…I want chocolate cake… And I want to eat it at the cute bakery across the street…with my girlfriend.

But then Moses changes the tone and says to God in Exodus 33:15 “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.” 

“Don’t make us leave this place.” What? How could Moses pray this? Scripture tells us the journey out of Egypt to the promised land from Mount Sinai should have take about 11 days but it took 40 years! How could Moses say that he wouldn’t move without God? Even if it meant staying put for a long, long time. The Israelites camped in Sinai for one year without moving!

I believe Moses could pray this because he had a Shelter in place… he knew the goodness of his Father, and he knew how not good things were without Him. He knew he could not lead the millions of complaining Israelites without the wisdom of the Creator.

He had seen the miracles and wanted to be closer to the extraordinary than settle for the ordinary.

We see in scripture that he spoke with God face to face as a friend. He knew God well enough to tell the Israelites: “Don’t be shocked or afraid…The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you…and you saw how the Lord cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child…”Deut. 1:30-31 

Moses knew the goodness of God in the midst of his shelter in place.

Despite staying put, he still experienced the delight of His heavenly father and couldn’t bear the thought of moving anywhere without Him. 

I am hoping this season of our lives is one of a kind. I am guessing we will never be in a place of this much restriction as a country or as families. So, this is a very unique situation and we serve a very unique God who cares for us “just as a father cares for a child.” He is a good, good Father and an excellent teacher. 

I believe there is a very unique lesson for all of us in this time and I don’t want to miss it.

I want the heart of Moses, to know God as a friend and to be able to pray “If you don’t personally go with me, I don’t want to leave this place.”

What does he have for you in this place? This shelter in place? What does he want to teach you where you are, camped out, impatient with the long journey and tired of the manna?

You know, manna was the miracle bread, only enough given for each day, no extra could be consumed or it would spoil. We are here too, shelter in place, with only manna, only promised today.

There is a lesson here in your camp. There is a miracle in the manna for you too. 

He doesn’t want you to leave this place without Him either…