The Unexpected Move of the Holy Spirit

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Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, 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 3:5-8 (NRSV)

The last few weeks, I’ve prayed about what to write regarding the Holy Spirit. I’ve had this passage on my heart. I’ve asked many times, “What do you want to say about Yourself, Holy Spirit?” I’ve heard no answer. I’ve only experienced a sense of waiting and watching. I’ve gotten nothing solid to dig my writing fingers into, no biblical insights that seemed worth sharing, and no great discoveries.

Yet, I have sensed that You are moving and, finally, the nudge to let that be enough. Maybe it’s not about knowing in the way I would often want to know. Maybe it’s comfort enough to hear the leaves rustle, even if it’s just a faint murmur. Maybe, Holy Spirit, You mean to not bring knowledge that I can solidly focus on like some prized possession, but to constantly pull my gaze to the reality of the Kingdom – that You are, and You are always, moving.

Maybe more than knowledge, you are giving me faith—faith carried along in the gentle testimony of an invisible yet real dimension, the very atmosphere I am immersed in but rarely truly see.

There is great power in the wind. It carries an ability to shake, expose, uproot, to sound an alarm and demand attention. But that’s not the most common way of wind. That’s not what I fail to see. I fail to see the wind shift a landscape over many generations. I fail to see the wind lift a seed from a garden to bring new life to the barren landscape over the next hill.

As I have tried to write about You, You have been gently stirring but never moving me to some conclusion in the way I wanted. In this case, I wanted some coherent and solid message to share about the Holy Spirit. And maybe I am hearing you after all.

As I sense renewal and movement, I’m tempted to seek some destination, but You are always about destiny: the stringing together of points along space and time. A movement. That’s a musical phrase, isn’t it? Music is only beautiful because of its movement. If all we heard was the final cymbal-crashing intensity of brass and string at the end of many symphonies, we would not call it art or lovely.

In this struggle to write, I have not felt certain, but I have felt comforted. I’ve sensed You moving, though I don’t exactly know how or where that movement leads. But today I feel satisfied, even joyful, to see that the trees are moving. I have felt You lead me to watch, to listen, and to witness a movement that comes and goes in mystery. I hear the rustling, and I’m filled with holy wonder. Even the unknowing causes me to know that You are, and You are always, moving.

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