Song of Solomon 4:16 “Awake, O north wind: and come, thou south; blow upon my garden…Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” Usually our Lord speaks in a still, small voice, but sometimes he speaks through a mighty, rushing wind. I completed the above sections just as our children finished their final exams for the summer, and then we left for a delightful family camping trip down to Florida (17 years ago now!). The skies were cloudless the whole week, and warm southern breezes brought daytime temperatures into the nineties. We spent the week playing volleyball and tennis, swimming, splashing in the waves, strolling up the beach, and building sand castles. It was heavenly.
However, shortly after we returned, there was a terrible clash between the warm, southern winds and a strong northern wind that blew down from Canada. The result was a tornado that leveled an entire town in North Dakota and tornado-force winds that swept across much of the country, leaving a path of destruction behind. I learned an unforgettable lesson concerning what may happen when both the north and south winds ‘awake’ together!My husband and I were awakened by the loud crash of a tree coming down (which by God’s grace didn’t damage the house but landed inches from it—and the head of a set of bunk beds where our boys sleep!). The wind whistled like a train engine roaring down the tracks, and we fled with our children to the basement. In a matter of minutes the storm had passed, and it wasn’t until the next morning that we learned the true extent of the damage. We were just nine of 600,000 people in southern Michigan who were out of electric power. Our immediate surrounds were declared a national disaster area. Leafy branches and debris were blown all over the yard and road, and more than twenty trees had been blown over on our property…some with massive root systems reaching ten feet into the air. A telephone pole had been knocked over by two trees, and the trail through our woods was impassable. The sound of chain saws rang through the air all day, and the younger children helped me rake and sweep until our arms ached.Fortunately, no one died in our area, and after several days electrical power and water were restored. Although it will take years for the woods to recover from the trauma, the rest of our property is pretty much back to normal and the birds are singing again in the woods. But, we learned so many lessons from the storm! One: when you invoke the north and south winds at the same time, you may get a tornado, so be prepared! Two: be prepared, but don’t be afraid. There were so many ways God protected and provided for us during the crisis. God always has his hand upon his children. Three: curiously, mighty oaks and cottonwoods fell, but not one flower. Not even the hanging basket of fuchsias or the roses budding on the trellises. There were reports of quarter-sized hail falling some places, but at our house the sweeping rains only provided much needed nourishment for our flowers, and the next morning the gardens glistened in the bright sunshine. I could not help but be struck by the thought that the 120 m.p.h. wind which demolished huge trees not fifty yards from our house had not touched our home or any of the delicate flowers in the gardens. It was a profound lesson on how God can care for us even in the midst of storms.
By faith, the bride asked for the movement of the winds so “that the spices thereof may flow out” and her beloved could enjoy his garden. God may send a mighty, rushing wind into our lives that topples lofty dreams or sends brilliant career plans crashing to the ground, but it will not touch the fruits of the Spirit. Rather, the flood of rain will only provide spiritual nourishment and luster to our lives and souls.(Kathy has one downy woodpecker on her head and another in her hand.)
Lastly, the Lord gave us one special blessing in the storm. A family of fledgling downy woodpeckers was nesting in one of the trees that blew over. The children found the birds quickly because of their distressed chirping and begged to rescue them, but I advised them to wait and see if their own parents would find and tend them. My children waited anxiously all day for the parents to return, but alas, as evening came the pitiful chirps for help were growing weaker. Rather than leave the babies to starve, our children took them in. It took countless hours of faithfully digging worms and grubs and pill bugs, stuffing blackberries, seeds, and tiny bits of crushed nuts and suet down their beaks…hours of work and love…but now (back then) we have five robust birds who trill and sing in the bedroom each morning and hopefully are within days of being ready to return to their woodland home. Raising a brood of five baby birds…and all the lessons learned along the way…was a great source of joy and blessing to our whole family… and to many families, as the woodpeckers traveled as far as Chicago with us! When we pray for the Lord to work, he does! His touch may be like a gentle breeze, or like a terrible electrical storm, but it will be for our good. He will always be with us, providing for us, overseeing our trials, and bringing us through…giving us sunny skies and times of relaxing rest, and then times of severe testing. But always, always, his work in us is to produce spicy fragrance and pleasant fruit in our lives for our happiness and his eternal enjoyment.