The Whirlwind Cometh
Life can change on a dime. One minute you’re toiling tediously to the drumbeat of the doldrums, and the next you’re in an avalanche of swirling circumstances, being beaten on by pressing decisions. This week was exactly like that. In twenty-four hours, three key things happened that altered the entire fabric of daily life. One phone call was all it took to blast expected outcomes to smithereens. I’m still gasping for breath and wondering what the next direction should be. The lesson? Never get too comfortable, because time, tide and the whirlwind wait for no man.
Life itself is a whirlwind, and just because you happen to be moving in the same direction as the vortex at any given point doesn’t mean you’re in command of it. Entrenched in our schedules and routines, we fall prey to the delusion that we’re in control. Isn’t it lovely to be steaming along magnificently on our own intelligence, charm and power, with all the world our oyster? Or so we believe. While it rotates in your favor, the maelstrom can powerfully accelerate your goals and accomplishments. Squalls of chance (or destiny) can take you up high on the thermals of ambition, but just don’t count on it lasting too long. Forceful winds are also fickle ones, and the micro burst that took you aloft to such dizzying heights suddenly stalls, cutting you loose in a terrifying free-fall.
Lots of times, we can see a storm coming, but it’s harder to know what the source is. As Christians, we always like to blame menacing, contrary conditions on the Devil. He gets a lot of air time. It’s true that he and his minions are directly responsible for a lot of the pain and suffering of life, but the Lord can and does short-circuit his attempts to destroy us. He loves to turn the enemy’s cruel intent into one-of-a-kind opportunity for faith refinement and singular life-lessons. Satan doesn’t get the last word, even in the tempest.
There’s a lot of huffing and puffing, and blowing down of houses, but not all of it can be laid to the door of the wolf. Actually, it’s possible to create the whirlwind yourself. The minor prophet Hosea warns renegade Israel “for they have sown the wind; they shall reap the whirlwind” (Hos 8:7). In other words, you can set yourself up for big life-storms by an accumulation of self-centered, foolish decisions that obscure your own vision with spiritual dust-devils, aggravating and alienating the people around you. Sow arrogance and recklessness: reap tempest and trouble. It’s only a matter of time. Even unbelievers know ‘Karma’s a *itch!’.
A far more alarming phenomenon is when you realize that the Anointing itself is more than a little tumultuous. Consider the imagery of Ezekiel, chapter one. A whirlwind of God comes out of the north, characterized by cloud, flame, lightening, living creatures, wings, rings wheels and eyes. It’s a flurry of holy motion and intent, dominating the scene. This is the description in the spirit realm of the presence of the Lord and His immediate intervention in the sphere of our lives. The whole fiery, furious apparatus stops and addresses Ezekiel, commissioning him into new ministry. It’s ironic that we pray so sincerely, dedicating ourselves for the Lord to use, but when the whirlwind of Jesus comes in personal visitation, it’s disconcertingly perplexing. Nothing sweet or comfortable about it. We’ve got this absurdly tame idea, something absorbed from the great marble statues and friezes of Europe’s cathedrals, no doubt, that sainthood is safe and static, even boring. Often, the Lord uses the whirlwind to elevate our revelation. Just as the Apostle Paul, himself captive to storm conditions beyond his control, washed up on Malta with nothing but the clothes on his back, we too can be catapulted into a new era by the most unorthodox of means.
Recently, Hurricanes Irma and Harvey devastated the Eastern Seaboard. Maria is currently predicted to follow closely in their tracks, intensifying as it crosses the Caribbean. Houston has been battered by the unremitting outpouring, and there seems no end in sight. Storm season can be like that. Whether the whirlwind is sent from the Lord, or comes through far less sanctified forces, it leaves us assaulted, disoriented and exhausted. We’re battered, but we’re not powerless. We still have choices, and our initial moves could be absolutely critical.
Let’s put first things first. Get out of the full spate of the wind and rain. Find some shelter and protection. That’s our immediate course of action in the natural, so it follows it would be logical in the Spirit as well. Isaiah 25:4 describes such a sanctuary for our hearts and minds.
For you have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat,when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
The ultimate place of refuge is still our trust in the unchangeable nature of God’s love for us. This is the ‘eye of the storm’, and nothing else even comes close to it. Whether it’s a hurricane or whirlwind, the eye is placed in the storm to illustrate the powerful truth that the safest place is the calm center of His will. He’s the safe haven, the bolt-hole, the asylum; anchorage and defense in the worst states of personal emergency. There is no substitute for the pavilion of His presence. Step out of the gale-force winds of the fear of man. Stop being pelted and pierced by your own fear and doubt. Shut down the tumultuous clamor of other people’s opinion and humbly place yourself in the promises of Scripture. You’ll feel the tempest abate immediately. Batten down the hatches, and let the storm blast itself out against The Rock. You will emerge unscathed.