Nature is burgeoning with repeating patterns and ratios that swirl around us with satisfying regularity. The seasons themselves are cyclical, encompassing us with familiar and predictable rhythms of weather. Mathematical perfections throb in the bursting forth of blossoms, the unfurling fern, the spiderweb, the mysterious caverns hidden in the seashell. Life pirouettes around us, churning out fresh, tender green; gorging our senses with gratification. The gentle whirlwind of spring is delightful, so I suggest you enjoy it; expect, however, winds of change far more boisterous and unsettling.
I was working in Mill Woods, Edmonton, on Black Friday when an unprecedented tornado scarred the south-east side of the city. By strange co-incidence, I was also in Red Deer Alberta when one ripped up Pine Lake, a mere 15 kilometers away. Certain conditions are always present. Like a harbinger, the air is scorching hot, yet heavy and dense with high humidity. A singular stillness descends; there’s not a breath of moving air. It’s as if nature takes a deep inhale before unleashing the fury.
When it comes to stormy winds, there are days indelibly etched on my memory. As a teen-ager, I remember being home alone midsummer with my sister and toddler brother when the blackest, most churning, apocalypse-like clouds were suddenly roiling overhead, bringing with them gale-force winds. The noise was tremendous; trees writhing in a fury of motion, bent nearly to the ground. As I struggled to pull the madly accordian-ing 25-foot folding doors of the machine shed closed, I saw my baby brother fighting his way towards me. My sister came running from shutting the pig-barn doors, and I yelled at them both to ‘get in the house right now!’. And not a moment too soon. They had barely pulled the careening door shut when the tempest caught the edge of a pile of stacked plywood, peeling them off one by one, as mere wisps of paper. I just missed being clipped as I left all things to their fate, and sprinted for the house. I’ll never forget the raw ferocity of that moment, or how fast it descended.
If you watch for it, and have sufficient precedent, you can recognize the signs of an impending tempest. There are external, physical whirlwinds, but also, spiritual ones. The whirlwind, natural or spiritual, is no joke. Maybe it’s the enviable concluding of things long prayed, worked or contended for; the ending of Job’s extensive trial and torment. Alternatively, the tumult could be a maelstrom of judgment long deferred; the culmination of selfish, stupid decisions unrepented. Scripture warns us cryptically “Who sows the wind, reaps the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7). When the unstoppable Law of Sowing and Reaping comes to fruition, whatever isn’t nailed down is going bye-bye. Things are now out of your control.
Scripture never shies away from the dramatic, so the whirlwind, good or bad, is a repeating theme. As I already mentioned, one of the most righteous men of his generation, Job, experienced not one, but two massive whirlwinds. The first was heartbreakingly destructive, the second, strikingly redemptive (Job 1:14-19, Job 38-42). God Himself appears to the beleaguered saint in the vortex and answers (well, sort of) Job’s deep questionings. He also appears after long oppression, to the children of Israel in Egypt. He’s with Moses as judgment and justice spiral in plague tempests that level Pharaoh and brings Egypt to its knees. And let’s not forget Elijah, prophet supreme in Israel, whom the Lord gave one of the grandest exits ever seen, even in the Bible. Chariots and horses of fire ascended on a whirlwind, taking him up to heaven in the sight of Elisha.
Another prophet, Ezekiel, records a sighting of completely unprecedented phenomenon:
I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. Ezekiel 1:4-8 NIV
This was a vision, seen by the prophet as the heavens were opened. Its appearance marked the glory of the Lord coming upon this man and the nation. In it, he recognized the revelation and commissioning of God; a vision powerful and other-worldly. What he actually saw was what we, in the New Testament, call “the Anointing”. This is a physical manifestation of the power of Jesus, moving in, and on, someone’s life. Imagery is required to capture something this profound.
So, the question becomes “Are you ready for the whirlwind of God, the Anointing, and its transforming power?” Seriously. When Jesus answers your prayer and transports you to higher levels of authority and responsibility, are you positioned for the visitation? Can you handle the glory? Better saints than you have trembled and fallen, terrified, upon their faces at this moment. The whirlwind of God is potent, dynamic, and a more than a little dangerous. These are high-velocity winds that will sand blast away the chaff and chatter, and quarry you into a living stone, fit for the hand of the Master.
Don't expect a Caribbean holiday. The Anointing is not a bracing, balmy wind, easy and restful. It will set your teeth on edge and demand all your best attention and energy. It will rattle your bones and tax your stamina. You prayed for change, for growth, deliverance and blessing – so now brace for the fiery force of God that brings your delicate and disturbing redemption. He’s about to save you, despite yourself.
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