Two summers ago I took up windsurfing. I learned to windsurf about 25 years ago but had not done it since. So when I saw an old, used windsurfer at a garage sale, I decided to buy it. I immediately took my new purchase to the lake, and like riding a bike, it didn’t take long to relearn the basics. Since then I’ve spent many summer hours on the water, enjoying the outdoors, feeling the sun on my back, and riding the wind.
But I’ve also learned some things about being guided by the Holy Spirit through my exploits windsurfing. The Apostle John described the Holy Spirit like the blowing of a breeze. “The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants” (John 3:8 CEV). Here are three things I’ve learned while windsurfing that directly relate to listening and responding to the Holy Spirit.
You can’t go anywhere without the wind.
There are a few basic ingredients needed to windsurf. You first need a board, a sail, a rudder, and a boom (the part you hold on to). A life jacket, sunscreen and some cool sunglasses also come in handy. You need a sufficiently large body of water, some knowledge of the sport, and some skills developed through practice. And of course, you need the wind.
All these pieces of equipment are important, but you can’t do anything without the wind. I’ve set out on a number of short trips that began with a mild breeze. Just enough to get me going. But then the wind completely died. Several times I found myself a good distance from shore in a dead calm. I’ve tried to manufacture wind by blowing on the sail. Didn’t work. I’ve tried to swing the sail back and forth to create wind. Useless. In situations like these, I typically run out of patience, jump in the water and swim for shore with my board and sail in tow. When it comes to windsurfing, wind is essential.
The same is true in the Spirit-led life. Trying to manufacture the Spirit’s leading is useless. Forcing things to happen when God isn’t really behind it is time consuming, frustrating and futile. To really go anywhere, to accomplish God’s purposes, you need the wind of the Spirit empowering you.
Pay attention to when the wind starts to blow.
When I’m out on the lake and the wind has died down, I simply wait. But I’m not just waiting, I’m anticipating the wind beginning to blow again. When I feel a small, cool puff on the back of my neck, I have only a second or two to prepare for the coming gust of wind. I grip the boom tighter, bend my knees, and lean back into the oncoming wind. Then when the wind hits the sail, I’m off.
In life, it’s important to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Volumes have been written on how to do this. They emphasize prayer, meditation, solitude, listening, and immersing yourself in the scriptures. Bottom line, being sensitive to the movement of the Spirit is essential to fully experience the joy-filled, amazing life God intends for his children.
Respond to the wind and adjust accordingly.
Once the wind begins to blow, I simply adjust the position of my sail accordingly. Tipping the sail into the breeze, altering my stance or how much I lean, helps me catch the wind. When my equipment, actions, and the wind all work together, it takes me places and it’s a great ride.
In life, it’s not enough to know that the Spirit is leading. Adjustments need to be made. Responding to the Spirit requires some action on your part. So do all you can to feel the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit in your life. And when the wind of the Spirit begins to blow, adjust your priorities, actions, and attitude to conform to His leading and direction. And enjoy the ride!