Today I sat in the middle of a river near my house. Being late summer, it’s very low and one can walk all the way to the middle on exposed rocks. I love sitting there, listening to the therapeutic sound of cascading water while thinking about life and my First Love.
A couple months ago, this tame little river was a different story! We had a 50-year flood that destroyed property, bridges, and completely rearranged the path of the river. In fact, there are stretches of four-foot mounds of sand and boulders that didn’t used to be there before—all washed downstream from the raging waters.
All of this got me thinking about people. Some people are easily moved by the Spirit of God. They need very little prompting to be moved to change, responding to the work of God in their lives easily. Others need a raging river, hurricane force winds, or catastrophic earthquakes to do the trick. Elijah was a prophet of God who fit into the first category:
“And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him…” 1 Kings 19:11-13
Most people don’t know this, but the Bible talks about three types of people and what it takes to line up their lives to follow the correct path so that they can be useful to God and others. These types of people are directly compared to barley, wheat, and grapes.
Barley is separated from its exterior chaff by winnowing, or light blowing. Wheat has harder chaff and takes a bit more to be refined and made useful—its chaff is removed by threshing. And the last type of people are described as grapes. Do you know what it takes for a grape to be conformed to Christ and made useful? It takes a winepress! But in the end, wine is sweet, and it is very good to the taste!
In my walk with God, I want to be like Elijah, and like barley. I want to respond to the lightest breath blowing across my life, urging me to change and conform to the image of Christ. I want to be useful to God and others with little pressure on my life.
Interestingly, the Greek word for Spirit is “pneuma.” Pneuma literally means breath! A life that responds to the “Holy Breath” is one that does not need security in people, possessions, schedules, agendas, and plans. It is one that is willing to stay on the move, to admit wrongs. and to amend behavior where necessary. It is also a life that is full, rich, deep, and full of adventure!
“The Spirit (pneuma/breath) blows where it wants, and you hear it’s sound, but you know not from what place it comes, and where it goes; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit…” John 3:8
What evidence is there in your life that you are living by the Spirit or the breath of God?