Awake, O north wind,
And come, wind of the south;
Make my garden breathe out fragrance,
Let its spices be wafted abroad.
May my beloved come into his garden
And eat its choice fruits!”(Song of Solomon 4:16)
I’ve just returned from a few weeks overseas. The bulk of our time was on the beautiful and rugged island of Tasmania. My cycle of jet lag is nearly complete!
It is Sunday afternoon here in a not-so-sunny Florida. It is heavily cloud covered, windy and our Fall weather is vacillating between raining and threatening to rain. With the clouds dark and full but not spilling over at that moment, I took a bike ride on the beach. My body was ready for movement and my soul was ready to enjoy the space and expanse of the sea where I always finds renewal.
I first rode in the direction that was against the wind. I knew from experience it is a much more enjoyable bike ride to return home going with the wind.
Riding against the wind was more challenging. I felt resistance with every push of my pedals. The wind was cold and my eyes were watering, adding a slight blur to my vision. The sound of wind and sea seemed loud in my ears and often produced a whistling sound if I changed the rotation of my head even slightly. I found myself fully in touch with and experiencing the task of biking against the wind. I also was determined to reach my goal, the marker on the beach, before turning around. There was a physical toughness to the ride against the wind that was uncomfortable and tedious, but I knew this was the very thing that would add value to my overall health. I reached my goal with a smile that only the Lord saw!
Then I turned around and rode with the wind. What a difference! The very first thing I noticed was the alteration in the sound. Even though I was returning over the very same ground the sound was much quieter, peaceful and I could hear peripheral noises like birds and splashes that I had not heard before. I immediately felt warmer. Somehow, in some very tangible way, the wind blowing against my back did not feel nearly as cold as the wind blowing in my face. With my eyes no longer watering my vision cleared. People now had faces that I could unmistakably see and I offered them smiles as I continued my journey. Perhaps the biggest change was to my labor of pedaling. I barley needed to pedal at all! With little exertion I covered ground. It was comfortable and with ease I made my way home.
Here is my revelation; I needed both winds! The verse above captures a beautiful truth of our journey with the Lord. Our hearts, our lives, our very souls are like gardens (John 15). And the Gardener has a plan for each heart. That plan is to grow something stunningly beautiful. He is growing a life-garden that reflects the very heart of the Gardener. He is bringing to maturity fragrances, spices and ultimately fruit that include the love, joy and peace of the Spirit life. He is growing a garden that is attractive both to Himself and all who come near. He is growing a life of purpose and a life to be shared. He is growing a garden that He dearly loves and prizes.
In His wisdom the Gardener knows we need two winds to develop maturity, to grow attractive fruit. The north wind is the wind of challenge and often adversity. The north winds are the seasons in life we find hard and difficult. We feel resistance to our forward momentum but it is a resistance that ultimately develops character, faith and the perseverance necessary to shape (carve) our hearts into the very image of our King.
The wisdom of the Gardener also knows that we need the warm south winds as well. We need warm seasons when we become keenly aware of His presence and we both see and feel the blessings He has sewn into our lives. We recognize His closeness and taste His love. These are the seasons we most often pray for!
The truth is He is always tending his deeply loved garden. Whether He seems hidden by the challenges and adversity of the north winds or is clearly evident by His warm wind of blessings – He is there! Oh, the wisdom and kindness of the Lord!