The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. – John 3:8
I’ve been learning to sail this summer. I’ve also been wondering if Jesus was thinking about all the fishermen He knew when He said the words above. Starting to sail made me pay attention to the wind, and as I’ve done that I’ve found myself understanding these words about the Spirit in a new way.
The wind is whimsical. It blows you along in one direction and then shifts, or bears you swiftly and then calms suddenly and slows you down. Perhaps more experienced sailors can predict more than I can, but the wind is always surprising me, always doing something I didn’t expect. And when it does, I need to attend to it, to change what I’m doing so that it still works in relationship to the wind. When I adjust the sail or guide the rudder, I am in no way controlling the wind. I am aligning with it and accepting its gift of movement, actively working to stay in relationship to it and at the same time recognizing that it is the source of the boat’s energy and I am not. And when it takes off and carries my craft with it, joy fills me the same way the wind fills the sail. The wind blows where it wishes.
The Spirit surprises me, too. When I have figured out everything I need to do for the day and made a neat list, He rushes into my heart with a gust of joy that takes me far in a different direction. When I think I know the most important thing in the week, He pushes someone into my path who asks or offers a different kind of attention. When I think I have the course of my whole life fixed in a direction, He comes from somewhere else and I have to choose a different tack.
As we look towards the start of the semester, planning and organization are important tasks, ones God has called many of to pursue with diligence and faithfulness. For many of us, the coming months are a time to seek steady progress along a well-plotted course. I pray for the steady faithfulness to journey in the direction God has called me to. Yet I also pray to attend to the Spirit when He surprises me, whether He comes as the breeze that playfully redirects me in the slightest way or the gust of wind that turns me around completely. Whatever I do, I want it to be the Spirit who fills the sails and sweeps me along.
Where is the wind of the Spirit blowing in your life? Is He guiding you along the same course, or surprising you? Or both?
Oh Holy Spirit, Let us be attentive to You this year and always. As the wind blows where it wishes, we know You are mysterious. We do not always know why You nudge us in one direction or blow us off our usual course. Whether You are sending us strongly along our plotted course or guiding us somewhere else, be the wind that gives us motion. Thank You, oh breath of life. In Christ’s Name, amen.
About the author:
Dr. Hannah Eagleson loves building the ecosystem Christian scholars need to flourish and create positive impacts, in the university and beyond. She is Associate Director of InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network, a digital first ministry serving thousands of early career Christian scholars. Dr. Eagleson launched the ESN student/early career track at the American Scientific Affiliation annual faith and science conference. She is the editor of *Science and Faith: Student Questions Explored* (Hendrickson, 2019), and the one-semester guidebook *Scholar’s Compass: Connecting Faith & Work for Academics* (InterVarsity Emerging Scholars Network, 2021), with design by noted liturgical artist Ned Bustard. She also launched the Scholar's Compass online devotional series in her previous role as ESN Editor. Dr. Eagleson holds an MA from St. John’s College (Annapolis, MD) and a PhD in Renaissance literature from the University of Delaware.