Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"The Sound of the Breeze"

•  By Tony Harriman  •

This past week I've been occupied with laying bricks around the front of our house.  Nothing fancy, mind you, really just covering up blockwork which is a couple of feet tall below the vinyl siding.  There appear to me to be a whole lot of lessons which can be learned about life from working with cement and mortar, but we'll go there some other time.  What really struck me this week was how pleasant-sounding is the wind as it drifts lazily through the trees.

The sound of the wind is a curious phenomenon.  I'm going to tell you right up front that I don't believe it is any mistake that the Bible speaks about the Spirit of God in the same breath (pardon the pun) as it does the wind.

Those of you who know me or have ever read any of my observations from the world of nature will know that I believe God is trying to convey information to us about Himself and how He works, through the simple lessons of the Book of Nature.  And this short writing is intended to draw lessons from the wind regarding the way God works through us.

The movement of air is responsible for many things on the planet, from the tearing up of the landscape as the hurricane rolls across the beach, to the sound made by the throat of the newborn.  Those of us creatures that make sounds through the use of vocal cords would not be able to do so were it not for the movement of our breath over the cords.  Through the control of airflow across the vocal membranes we are able to produce sounds, which, with the additional use of other areas surrounding the air passageways, can be converted to speech.  Without the breath there would be no sound.

Perhaps one of the most pleasant sounds I know is that of a gentle breeze through the trees.  You hear the sound, you look up and see the branches swaying lazily with the wind.  At first impression we might think that the sound is being made just by the wind, but it's not; the sound is being made by the wind AND the trees; the breeze, as it courses over the leaves and branches, is turned this way and that and produces what is known as turbulence; it's this turbulence that causes what we know as wind noise.

Another pleasant sound to me is that caused by the wind whistling through windows that are open just a crack.  Of course, this sound is made that much more pleasant when I'm tucked up warmly inside.  But, speaking of whistling, that high shrill sound that we learn to make with our mouths is caused by wind turbulence around the tongue, teeth or any combination of fingers placed in the mouth.  Whistling may seem like a very simple operation once we master it, but there's a lot of clever math going on below the surface; check it out sometime.

If you live in a city and have very little opportunity to get out where wheat or corn grows, you likely have missed the incredible demonstration of wind "walking" through the fields of grain.  The sound of the husks brushing against each other, and the sight of the movement is incredibly relaxing to the senses, at least it is to mine.

I honestly believe it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to see a marvelous lesson being illustrated by God through nature regarding the wind.  It appears to me that the Spirit of God, to a greater or lesser degree, is ever present in the world.  This Spirit chooses to move through people to get marvelous things done across the land.  Sometimes the Spirit moves quietly, sometimes forcefully, depending on the need.  But do notice this: people make useful noise, or perform actions that matter, when moved by the Spirit of God.  You might remember that on the Day of Pentecost the record in the Book of Acts states that the Spirit came upon the disciples, and there was heard the "sound" of a mighty wind; there was no wind, but only the "sound."  Why this sound demonstration is not entirely clear, but I guarantee you this: it wasn't random.  God was trying to tell us something about the way He works.  You get a whole different picture of God when you think of Him bending down and breathing into Adam the breath of life, rather than picking Adam up and slapping him on the backside, right?  God adds a personal touch that clearly reveals that we need Him.

Trees don't make noise or move all by themselves.  Clouds don't drift across the sky under their own power.  Mouths don't speak in their own strength.  Without the movement of air there would be no wind noise.  I'm reminded of an illustration someone once gave regarding gravity, and how it's always working; nothing resists the effects of the Law of Gravity.  But the application of another law will offset the constant tending downward to the center of any mass — the Law of Aerodynamics.  The coursing of air under and over the wings of a bird or a plane will cause them to be lifted from the ground, provided, of course, that the air is present and the speed is somewhat constant.  Gravity is still working, but its effects are greatly affected.

As well as the bees and other insects, the wind is responsible for pollination across the land.  Right now is springtime in the northern hemisphere, and the pollen may be seen drifting through the air.  If you go outside at night and shine a flashlight right now, you can see a constant flow of powdery pollen passing through the beam.  That greenish yellow pollen dust covering anything and everything left out in the open was deposited there through the day and night by the breeze.

There's a thought that accompanies that of the wind and the noise it makes.  It goes like this:  The God of the Calvinist "does it all."  The God of the modern-day Christian does "most of it" through "you" with "your" permission.  If God should cause His Spirit to pass through you and do something great, just own it.  Give Him the glory for being able to do something wonderful through someone as pathetic as you.  He gets all the credit, and you … get to be honest.  I don't believe God does anything wonderful through you without your say-so.  No, I take that back; the thought that all things work together for good suggests that even my ridiculous behavior will be of some benefit somewhere.  God appears to me to be the ultimate Recycler, so somehow everything has a use and a demonstration for the glory of God.  But perhaps that's different from God working stupidity through me, which I don't believe He does.  I guess we can talk about that some other time.

There are those who believe that when they hear a breeze in the trees or in the grass, that this is God whispering to us.  That's not my conviction right now.  I'm more inclined to believe that all things we have a sense to behold reveal the "glory" of God, not the Person of God.  Besides, the opposite of a breeze is a tempest.  I am not presently of the conviction that God tears up the land with Katrinas and tornadoes.  Yes, I'm familiar with the idea that the judgments of God are revealed in calamities across the globe.  But bad stuff doesn't just happen to bad people; if you can't get your head around that, I invite you to read again the four Gospels.  Applying the Karma philosophy, that only good happens to good people, then Jesus should never have been treated the way He was when He was here.

Earth is a dangerous place to live.  Our lives eventually become filled with a string of hardships, sorrow and grief. It appears to me that God places tokens of peace, such as the breeze, throughout the land to show us not just how He works, but also to soothe our troubled hearts.  The gentle breeze, the chatter of the birds that return after the winter, the babbling of the brook, are not the voice of God, but they definitely speak to us of the peace of God and offer us hope of something better on the other side.

If you live in a city, large or small, I invite you to ask God that He would relocate you so that you might be able to better discern His medicine for your soul.  Yes, life in the city can be so much more convenient, especially if you don't drive.  But the benefits of having a small piece of ground around you from whence you were taken is beneficial on so many more levels … I believe.  And you are perhaps more likely to notice the things of God when you are placed among the things that God has made.

And that's just my take on it ….

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