As I awoke in the night I could hear the wind blowing past the side of our house. This was a strong and fairly constant wind and from past experience I know that there could be some consequences on the garden. I will have to wait until it becomes light to see the full effect on the plants in the garden, the hedges and the house itself.

Most of the plants in the garden are small and are not affected too much by the wind. Not least because the garden is surrounded by a hedge which helps shield the plants from the worst of the wind. The hedges around the property vary from side to side and front to back. Part of the boundary is a wooden fence which is rigid, this appears not to be affected by the wind until a post snaps and requires replacement. We have a section of fir hedge which is well established and can be seen to be affected by the wind around the edges, but the trunks of the trees are well formed over the years and it has always stayed in place. There is some privet hedge which unlike the fir has no strong trunk or branches. It is seen in the wind to move considerably and in the past has needed to be supported at one end to prevent it collapsing onto the ground. The other side of the garden is a wire fence which the wind blows straight through and never seems to be affected, but that fence does not provide any protection for the plants at all! The effect of the wind on each type of hedge is different, the way the hedge reacts to the wind is different and affects its durability.

So why do I write about the effect of the wind on my garden? In John 3 Jesus is talking to a Jewish leader called Nicodemus about becoming one of his followers and he refers to the Holy Spirit as like the wind. You cannot see the wind itself but only the effect of its passing. John 3: 5-8 (CEV) Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God. Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.

No-one can see the Holy Spirit, but anyone can see the results of the Holy Spirit’s work. It is this that we should be looking for and when we look to see God working, it is there that we should also concentrate our efforts, because working with God on what he is already doing is the place where we will see further blessing and growth.

How do we react to the Holy Spirit? Are we so rigid and refuse to move our position, so that as the wind increases in strength we break? Does our well formed trunk and branches support the structure of our lives, allowing us to be moved by the wind, but maintaining a deeply rooted support structure? Do we find that the wind bends us so much we need additional support? Or do we even just let the wind blow over us or even through us, having no effect on us at all!

If we are too rigid and the storms of live come, will we suddenly break, then major maintenance is necessary. If we do not have any support or experience we will run the risk of becoming blown this way or that by the wind, chasing the experience rather than the substance. Perhaps we try to ignore the storm but in doing so we also ignore the Spirit and we lose any effectiveness in our lives. It is my prayer that we build deep roots so that we do not get blown over by the storm but the work of the Holy Spirit can be clearly seen as we bend to his will. This sustainability will be visible to everyone around us, and they too will wish to share the resilience we have to the storms that life brings. This only comes through the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.