Sunday, August 25, 2013

You Don’t Know Which Way the Wind Blows

              The above title is taken from the Jesus People song of the same name, written and sung by The Second Chapter of Acts, a trio of siblings, in 1974.  In this song they ask the pointed question, "You don't know which way the wind blows, so how can you plan tomorrow?"  I was thinking of this song as I boarded a plane to travel back east to see my aged father, for as I stepped aboard the plane I did not know but that I might not be burying my father before I returned home.  Cancer, of course.  At time of writing, I still cannot plan tomorrow, or receive any prognosis which an aching heart so much desires.

           The Second Chapter of Acts did not merely raise the question about planning tomorrow, but also pointed towards the only real answer:  "Jesus knows which way the wind blows, so give Him your tomorrow."   That is, the resolution to our fearful inability to know and plan for the future lies in trusting Jesus.  He is the Lord of life and death, of this age and the next, and all human birth, sojourning, suffering, and death lie in His hands alone.  The path of wisdom consists of rising each day and placing the coming hours of each morrow in those hands.  Yet after we do this, then what?  What does a life of daily trust in Jesus look like?

            First of all, it consists of receiving each day as a gift from God and responding to that gift by gratefully sucking all the juice and goodness from it and rendering thanks for it all to God.  God crams each day with glory—sun to soak in, rain to wash away past sorrows, cups of wine to gladden the heart of man, and cones of ice-cream to restore the child in all of us.  The love of friends and family, the smiles of strangers, the sight of roadside flowers, and the sound swelling music all combine to form a divine bouquet of love daily delivered to our door.  There are other things in our day also of course, darker things.  Friends betray, and crazy drivers indulge in road rage, and bones ache, and health inevitably breaks down.  We hear of wars and rumours of wars, and the world remains, as it always has been, a dangerous place.  But we must not allow the perennial state of the world to rob us of the joy that God’s gifts still give us.  When we are tempted to rant and despair, think of Charlie Brown. Yes, Charlie Brown:  when God gave him a revelation of the true meaning of Christmas (immortalized in the seasonal classic A Charlie Brown Christmas) and he saw his dog Snoopy reveling in Christmas commercialism, he did not rant or despair, or lose the joy God gave him.  He simply said, "Oh well, this commercial dog is not going to ruin my Christmas."  Real joy can survive such outer assaults.  Look away from the dog, and return our focus to the source of our joy.

            Secondly, a life of trust consists of remembering that each experience we endure, each wave which breaks over us, has been allowed by God, and that if we continue to trust Him, He will turn it somehow to our good.  St. Paul is clear enough:  "We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."  "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."  (Rom. 5:3-4, 8:28).  Admittedly some terrible experiences elude our understanding of how God could possibly have allowed them.   The death of children through crime and war, the anguish of innocent people, all this strains and challenges our faith.  Sometimes the hot suffering which purges away our dross is hot indeed.  But if we cannot take comfort in the thought of God’s wisdom, perhaps we can take comfort in our ignorance.  It is true that I cannot understand how this or that tragedy could still work God’s will.  But then there is quite a lot I cannot understand, and my ignorance is practically boundless.  It is not surprising therefore if I cannot fathom or know the reason why God allows certain terrible and terrifying things.  Indeed, I don’t even know which way the wind blows.

            Lastly, a life of trusting God involves looking past the present world into the age to come. If our hope is bounded by the world’s present horizons, we’re toast.  Or, to quote the more stately language of St. Paul, "We are of all men most miserable" (1 Cor. 15:19).  Orthodoxy bids us to take the long view, and each Sunday’s Creed reminds us that we "look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come".  All our perplexity is resolved there, not here; it is in the age to come that the Lamb will be our shepherd and guide us to springs of living water and that God will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 7:17).  When we smack up against the hard doors of life and are tempted to fear what tomorrow might bring, it is then that we should remember one of the first and shortest of the Church’s prayers:  "Maranatha!"  Our Lord come!  It is in that coming that all the joy snatched from us in this age will be restored, and all our trust in Jesus finally justified.  Jesus knows which way the wind blows.  We can give Him our tomorrows.

           

3 comments:

  1. Very well said, Father =)Your words are a great encouragement to me.

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  2. Thank you for your encouraging words. May God's presence be with you in this time of family crisis.

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  3. I know what you're going through.

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