Some journeys require faith in a power beyond your own.
I was corresponding with a friend, an atheist, trying to explain my new faith in God through Christ. After two months of writing, I had yet to succeed in getting her to understand the meaning of knowing Christ as a personal savior. She had recently read a book on Buddhism which quoted a famous Lama as saying:
“God is Mind. Buddha is Mind–Both are totally open, omniscient Mind. They are the same thing.”
She wrote to me:
“The ‘Christian God’ and the ‘Mind’ of the Buddhists are sounding very much alike to me. You see, Buddhists don’t use the word “God,” but they do believe in a higher power that is outside both the natural world and the physical body as we experience them on a daily basis.”
I knelt in prayer and asked the Lord for a way to express to her the difference between Him, the eternal living God, whose precious gift of life is an act of creativity and pure love for us, and the state of enlightenment attained by Buddhists, who believe that life is simply suffering which can be suppressed by detaching oneself from the world and practicing right thoughts and actions.
The next morning two words came to me: “Sailboat, rowboat.”
The words seemed very strange and unexpected in my thoughts, but were followed with an insight that let me see that while these two boats may seem the same in many ways, that there is one monumental difference in them. The sailboat relies on a faith in something intangible, the wind, while the rowboat relies on one’s own efforts. The simple, but profound, differences of the two flowed into my thoughts. Though I’d never done any fictional writing, I was led to write a story called “The Wind and the Waves” of two people on a journey, which I sent to my friend. The story was filled with references to having faith in the wind, including this dialogue between the two characters:
“How can you have any faith in the wind? You can’t see it. You can’t touch it. You certainly can’t control it. You don’t even know if it will be there when you need it!,” said Bud.
Chris responded “I could never reach my destination without the wind. I know that it will take me where I am to go. The wind is my strength and my peace.”
Bud shook his head in bewilderment and disbelief, saying, “I have come to believe in a higher force within me that is my source of strength and peace.”
Chris considered this for a moment and then said, “Perhaps, but you are trying to reach your destination by your own efforts. Your journey is over when you reach the limit of all that is within you. The wind, however, will carry me with it forever.”
Incredibly, while my story was in the mail, my friend wrote this in a letter to another friend:
“I wonder if the wind is blowing through your yard today. I wonder if you have noted it, and whether and how it has affected you. It is blowing here in my town with great strength. It is whistling through my windows and hurtling dry leaves across the lawn. A stronger wind has not blown in many months. I read in a book just last week that in the Middle Ages, people believed quite literally that a blowing wind was in fact the breath of God. Today I listen to the wind with new ears. Tell me, if you will … what do you make of the blowing wind? What do you make of God?”
Two days letter, my story made its journey of over 500 miles and arrived in her mail. My friend was stunned at the references to having faith in the wind. She wrote to me,
“How could you have known that I had read about the wind being thought of as the breath of God? How could you have known that the wind was blowing very strongly here as I wrote my letter to my friend Mary suggesting that perhaps New Testament Bible stories were reflections of God? I cannot tell you how important the wind seemed to me as I wrote to Mary that day. Then when I got home two days later I found your letter in my mailbox. Your words jumped off the page at me: “The wind? How can you have any faith in the wind? I could never reach my destination without the wind. The wind is my strength and my peace. The presence of the wind…was beginning to stir about him. Apart from the wind he could do nothing. The wind was still with him, carrying him forward the wind embraced Chris.. if etc., etc.” I am almost convinced that I should make something of this. This is almost too strange to have been a coincidence.
This experience became the turning point at which my friend began to believe in God. I knew that God had answered my prayer and thanked Him, but I learned something too by this: Nothing I do by my own efforts will bring someone to God, but, through faith, God answers prayers to touch other’s lives in a way that I could never conceive, or control. It is my prayer that God will touch your life too in a way that you will know His presence and love.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
Words of Jesus Christ in John 6:44
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Words of Jesus Christ in John 3:8