Then, as is the case when the Lord prompts a prophetic word--without the mental effort of pursuing an idea or seeking a verbal picture but by a simple, submitted availability whereby one listens for what is being given--a series of biblical concepts began to fill my mind, as a glass is filled under a gushing fountain.
These concepts were so clear in their depiction--so practical in their application as prayer-points and, thereby, as expectations--that I immediately agreed when a member of our executive team said, "Jack, why don't you relate this in your March column?"
So, what follows is being offered to you, for your judgment in the Name of the Lord, as I entrust to His Holy Spirit the hope that your heart may be stimulated to faith and expectation as He blows upon your soul.
Changing your season. Poetry has described this season's winds in the well-known verse, "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb," contrasting winter's final, chilling gusts with spring's more warm and gentle life-awakenings.
I believe the Lord would seek to call you to hope--to believe He is opening a new season of blessing, surmounting the blasts of a winter upon your soul or your life work. He is calling you to allow His Holy Spirit to come upon you "suddenly from heaven" as a rushing, mighty wind (see Acts 2:2), as healing hope and delivering power turn the impact of your past around.
In response: Stepping into March, let us receive the possibility of as great a personal pivot-point as this month is a seasonal pivot-point. Open the month with faith that the same Spirit that came "suddenly from heaven" will blow--and that March will come in like "the Lion of the tribe of Judah." Let upraised hands receive a gift of faith: believe and receive the grace of God's power to thaw out frozen issues and to spring life and warmth around you.
Bringing surprise visitations. As a child, my family lived for nearly two years in Montana, where sudden winds called Chinooks often sweep in at springtime with such warmth that temperature changes of between 50 to 60 degrees may occur in a matter of minutes.
Such "surprise winds" of the Spirit await us--often as surprisingly as Anna and I experienced in the late winter and early spring, after taking our pastorate in Van Nuys. We arrived the second weekend of March 1969, but it was two years later that a surprise visitation came. By God's grace--and well beyond any expectations we had, as we brought nothing more than simple, open hearts to Him--the Spirit's winds of blessing burst upon us in that little church.
It seemed similar to David's obedience to the Lord's directive: "'When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly'" (2 Sam. 5:24, NKJV). As he responded to God's orders rather than depending on human wisdom, a great and surprising victory ensued.
The "winds of the mulberry trees" still call for simple obedience away from our own wisdom and unto a dependence on the Holy Spirit as He announces: "The battle is not yours--it is God's!"
There is a nearness of His grace and power at hand. Wait for Him--then move. He is ready to do a quick work: "for He will complete the work, and do it in short order by reason of His capacity to achieve His righteous purposes" (Rom. 9:28, my paraphrase; also see Is. 28:21).
In response: Invite the raw grace of God to sweep over the limits of your own sense of weakness, frailty or inadequacy in the face of the enemy. Listen to His voice saying, "Wait on the Lord...be of good courage." His hand is poised to move quickly, but so often is hindered by the busy efforts of our own. Let Him surprise you with what He can do, by stepping back and waiting until He says, "Now move!"
Calling children home. It was March, a half-century ago, when, as a teen-age boy, I answered God's call--away from confusion and unto the Father's intended purpose. That breath of divine drawing, the precious Holy Spirit, called me to clarity of understanding and commitment to God's best for my life.
Every March brings the reminder of God's dealing with young people to establish His will in their lives. This March, He's ready to do the same.
In Isaiah 43:5-7, God declares His commitment to breathe His call to our descendants--"from the east, from the west, from the north and from the south." He says, "I will bring them; I will gather them; I will say, 'Give them up! Do not keep them back!'"
In that light, this word from God's Word speaks to us now: "Believe My word of promise. There is no place My voice cannot reach your children. Call unto Me--and I will call unto them!"
In response: Let me pray with you: "Heavenly Father, my heart is touched with gratitude to remember how You kept me and brought me to obedience and submission to Your will that March so long ago. Now, in this moment, I stand with fellow servants who, as my parents did, lift their hands to receive Your promise. Bring all the children home, Lord!"
Jeremiah 31:16 declares: "Thus says the Lord: 'Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.'" Respond to this word by entering extended praise. Embrace this biblical promise and receive the promised hope.
Marching toward Easter. By Jesus' own description, the Holy Spirit's mysterious workings are always about the task of bringing souls to new birth, working in places and in ways we cannot see nor could perceive or even imagine.
He said: "'The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit'" (John 3:8). With those words, our Lord not only describes God's supernatural ability to breathe life into deadened spirits, but also He teaches us the wisdom of refusing to doubt He is at work in people we despair of reaching, or in human circumstances we think may be beyond redemption.
March climaxes with Easter this year. Our ministry targets it--is marching toward it--the ultimate high day in the life of the church. As we do, an equal certainty is how each of us craves a supernatural move of God's Spirit that Resurrection Sunday to draw many to Jesus as Savior, as our celebrations bring guests in larger numbers than any other time of the year.
How many, however, have discovered the awkward fact that this increased evangelistic anticipation also tends to bring a felt burden of responsibility? The sensitive pastor is so easily inclined to feel, "I've got to produce if we're going to have results." None of us are actually foolish enough to suppose we can change a life, but the haunting feeling that our efforts are key can easily erode the joy of the approaching celebration and shadow the soul with fear or doubt.
If you, as I, have ever felt anything of this peculiar pressure, the Holy Spirit wants to speak into your season's celebration. With all that is rising before you, dear pastor/friend--as March begins to unfold--review the precious words of Christ from John 3:8: "'[You] cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes.'"
It is those very words that became a freeing comfort to me years ago, removing the false burden to "get results" and releasing a joy in approaching evangelistic opportunities. The essential truth in that verse undergirds the word the Spirit is speaking now:
"Even now, I am already going before you, faithful servant. I am breathing into the dark corners of hearts that are darkened, blinded, bound and tormented. Though no one knows what I am doing or with whom I am dealing, each one of them is aware of it!
"As you rise to speak My Word, let faith and confidence arise as well. I have paved the way for the entry of My Word into their souls. Speak to them as ones who are ready to receive, not as ones who are resistant. They will recognize your invitation as Mine, for I have already been preparing them for their new birth, even though no one could see or understand My workings."
In response: Let us pray toward Easter with this confidence: God is setting people up! And as we continue in prayer, let your heart be assured that hearts are being prepared in secret ways by God's Holy Spirit.
So, when you open your worship time this Easter Sunday, let the warmth of the new springtime season exude with faith. And as you open your Bible to proclaim God's Word, let the gentle grace of your proclamation be spoken as a friend to friends--people are waiting to know the truth that will set them free.
Can you hear this hope? Can you receive these "words from the wind?" I submit them to you with faith the Lord may confirm them to your heart and fulfill them in your ministry.
Say yes, and expect to experience a March that does come in like a lion--as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah moves before you "like a mighty wind," bringing sudden and surprise victories. And say yes to a March you expect to go out like a lamb--as the Spirit of God prepares and draws people to open their hearts to "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."