The Sound of a Mighty Rushing Wind

Last Sunday evening, hundreds of residents in High Point and Davidson County, North Carolina got a new perspective on the meaning of the words “the sound of a mighty rushing wind.”  A violent F 3 tornado ripped through our area, leaving a path of destruction not seen in this area in years.  Miraculously, there were no fatalities, even though over 600 homes were either destroyed or damaged by the raging twister.

In the days following the storm, television news media reported the stories of those who lived through the horror of that Sunday afternoon.  Many of the survivors used this phrase when trying to describe the noise they heard as the twister ripped through their homes or businesses, “it sounded like a freight train.”

Personally, I’ve heard that sound myself, having lived through two tornadoes in Kentucky.  It is a terrifying sound, unlike anything you’ve ever heard before, because along with the noise of the wind, there is the sound of flying debris hitting the windows and houses, and the sound of wood, metal and stone being ripped away from structures.

As I listened to their stories, I was reminded of the way Luke described the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.  “Suddenly, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.”  (Act 2:2 NLT)  The biblical word used here describes something terrifyingly violent.  I wonder how the disciples felt as they heard that sound, and what went through their minds and hearts.  Certainly, they could not have been prepared for what they experienced that day.

Just as the tornadoes of this week impacted the lives of their victims in a way they will never forget, so the disciples, after their experience with the Holy Spirit on the day Pentecost, would never be the same.  After telling them how they would become His witnesses throughout the world, Jesus commanded them to wait in Jerusalem, “for the promise of the Father,” the coming of God’s Spirit.  With the Holy Spirit’s coming, they would receive power, and be transformed into a people who would impact the world for eternity.

Sometimes, we have been guilty of domesticating the Holy Spirit, and explaining His work in humanistic terms.  And, when we do this, we fail to see and understand the radical and eternal impact He has upon the lives of those who follow Christ.  His coming is anything but tame!  He radically changes our lives altering both our direction and our nature forever.   This is the essence of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus also used the metaphor of the wind to explain the new birth, and the work of the Holy Spirit to an influential religious leader of His day, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from, and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 NLT).   Speaking of the new birth, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  (John 3:5 NLT)  Also, Paul the Apostle said it like this, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  (2 Cor. 5:17 NLT)
Radical transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Only He can bring about life-altering changes, and He alone has the power to continue that transforming process throughout our pilgrimage of following Jesus.  Perhaps we would do well to think of Him as the “violent rushing wind,” constantly bringing into our lives all God has for us, and ushering us into the very presence of a holy and awesome God!

The title of a familiar hymn in many of our churches, “Holy Spirit, Breathe on Me,” doesn’t do justice to the awesome work of the Holy Spirit.  We need Him to do more than breathe on us.  We need His radical, life transforming power, and more than ever before, we need to be continually filled with, and controlled by the Holy Spirit.”
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About Larry Doyle

Larry is the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association. He has served overseas with the International Mission Board (SBC), in Charlotte NC as the Director of International Ministries, and as a pastor in North Carolina and Kentucky. He is married to Rebekah Hill, a native of Greensboro NC, and has two children and three grandchildren.
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