The Gospel in the Wind
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8). The atmosphere is the life and breath of nature. Take it away and nature becomes one vast tomb without so much as the wind to wail over it. The Holy Spirit is the atmosphere of the immortal realm — the life and breath of the spiritual universe. Take it away and the moral world is left in hopeless death. The atmosphere in motion we term wind. The wind is only the air in movement. Here the Master makes the wind to show the movements of the Spirit. “The wind bloweth where it listeth. “It was night when the Master had this talk with Nicodemus. Perhaps the night winds were heard sighing and wailing without, giving suggestion which the Great Teacher used. “Thou hearest the sound thereof.” Let me call your attention to several things about the wind.
* * *
I. THE WIND IS NOTED FOR ITS FREEDOM Essential freedom is its distinctive feature — it is unbridled. It is the untamed and untameable element in nature. The river is confined to its channel, and the ocean is bedfast and powerless to chase even a child — but the wind is swift-footed for the chase, and winged for the flight. It is at home on land and sea. Thus it is with the Holy Ghost. He is confined to no channel, and is bound by no cord. He is everywhere present and everywhere free. He will find out every man, whether he be fleeing from duty or pressing toward God — whether his condition be one of pomp or poverty, whether a miner in the pit or a prince on a throne — God’s Spirit will find him out. Some men take up life in fruitless attempts to get away from the Holy Spirit. They plunge into business, pleasure, society and sin, but in vain. Like Felix, bidding the Spirit, “Go thy way, “or like Jonah, hiding in the ship’s hull, there is no escape. Every man has felt the Spirit’s power as sure as he has felt the atmosphere or the wind. Converted he may not be — convicted he may have been, yet he could not help it. “whither shall I go from thy presence? or whither shall I flee from thy spirit?”
* * *
II. THE WIND IS MYSTERIOUS IN ITS OPERATIONS “Thou canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth.” We know the general condition of the wind, such as seasons, heat and other elements, but what know we of the origin or end of any current of air? It arises we know not where, and goes we know not whither. This doubtless was anew thought to Nicodemus. He had marked many things in the Old Testament, but he had not observed this Spirit-wind. This Spirit current has come down mysteriously through the Old Testament ages, and is now going forth with increasing volume over the earth, until every rational creature shall feel its power. Hence, Nicodemus might well ask, as the world is ever asking, “How can these things be?”
* * *
III. THE RESISTLESS POWER OF THE WIND Though in its gentler and softer moods, it suits its breathing to the delicate aeolian strings, and the music be soft and sweet as the notes of a seraph’s flute, yet in its wilder moments it becomes the king of terrors in the physical world. No other element of nature dare dispute its sway. The earth that feeds its millions is powerless to resist it. The giant oak, the child of the forest, is torn in a moment from its place, and hurled heavenward by the passing cyclone, and the earth’s bosom is left torn and disfigured. The city, made solid by the passing centuries, is caught and dashed as a child’s toy to destruction. Herein is a picture of the blessed Holy Ghost. Moving now in the terrible tempest, anon in the “still small voice.” His gentle brooding over the dark, dead waters at the day-dawn of creation, giving life to the stagnant seas — hovering now over the dead of humanity to quicken it into spiritual life. The mighty revivals which have marked the different periods were but the movements of the Holy Spirit. It is that power that has brought nearly two hundred thousands in India to stand before the door of the church pleading for admission. In these “violent movings” of the Spirit multiplied thousands have been brought to Christ. It was the same Spirit-wind in Wesley’s day, Charles G. Finney’s time, and of these days, that has swept multiplied thousands into the kingdom of God. Oh, for a mighty outpouring of His Spirit, upon every city, town, and rural district in this country!
* * *
IV. THE WIND CANNOT BE SILENCED “Thou hearest the sound thereof.” You hear, whether you wish to hear or not. The wind on a winter’s night may howl and wail without, and scream around the house corners as if demons were loose, robbing you of your slumbers and tormenting you with unrest. You may wish the wind to silence, but in vain. You may turn your thoughts to other themes, but anon in double terror their deafening roar breaks upon your ears. There is no escape save in the destruction of the sense of hearing. We cannot silence the Holy Ghost. The ears of the soul are greeted by His warning voice. Like the wind it “lifts up its voice without, and crieth in the streets.” That voice breaks upon the cloudy elements of the guilty soul in terrible and tormenting tones. Oft in the silent night He brings wretchedness and unrest. The sinner may wish that voice silenced, but in vain — you may command it away, but as well may you try to command the winds — you may turn from it in contemplating other things, but anon it breaks upon the soul with unearthly alarms. The deaf are not disturbed by the howling of the night winds. The Holy Spirit has no alarms for the dead conscience. Therefore, if you do not feel the influence of the Spirit as you once did, it is not because the Gospel has lost its power to awaken, but it is because your soul has reached that deadness where the Spirit’s voice can no longer be heard. So dead that the Holy Ghost cannot awaken it.
* * *
V. THE WIND CANNOT BE AROUSED We are as powerless to arouse the wind as to silence it. It is not in our power to move the self-willed currents of the air. We may be fainting beneath a tropical sun, dying in the stagnant heat, and feel as if we would give all for a cooling breath, yet we may perish in the very midst of the atmosphere because we are powerless to put its currents in motion. So with the Spirit of God, when He ceases His movements upon the soul. We have no power to renew His motion. That was a fatal mistake of Felix, presuming that when it was “convenient to him” he could recall the Spirit. This is the mistake of thousands. when once the Spirit is rejected, there is no assurance whatever, that He will ever return. How many have wished for the Spirit’s return, but alas! they might as well have wished for the moving of the wind. “Thou hearest the sound thereof.” You perhaps hear it now. Blessed hour when this can be said! Sinner, hearest thou now the Spirit’s pleading voice? Heed His message! It may be bringing thee final farewell whispers of life and hope!
* * * * * * *