“KEEP YOUR BEAK INTO THE WIND”
What do Eastern Montana, Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon and Oklahoma have in common? (You could also throw in most of North Dakota and Wyoming and Nebraska!)—-WIND during much of the year. The wind just blows and blows and blows. In the winter, the same snow seems to just keep being recycled as it blows across the prairies. As you travel through these “beautiful areas” (really, they do have their own beauty!), you’ll notice an abundance of birds–red-winged blackbirds, meadowlarks, red-tailed hawks–perched on the thousands of fence posts that border the highways. And, when the wind blows, which is most of the time, without exception these feathered friends are pointing their beaks directly into the force of the wind, pinions pulled tightly behind them (for you non-Audubon members, pinions are wings or feathers!), and claws dug deeply into the wooden posts upon which they rest. It becomes obvious that were these birds to turn their backs against the wind, their pinions would be pummeled by the mighty blast of the wind. Feathers would go everywhere and the birds would not be able to stand their ground. And even if they did somehow manage to hang on to their wooden perch, their plumage would be decimated by the force of the wind. Wings would be broken or feathers ripped out.
It seems our feathered friends know something about life that we too often forget–that the best way to endure the blusters life brings our way is to face them head on–beak forward, tail feathers behind and tightened, claws dug deeply into something solid. Blustery winds are about as commonplace in our lives as they are in these windy sections of our country. Perhaps you are being tossed around by one right now. If not, I’m sure you will face some in the year ahead.
— There is the awful “gale of guilt” that erodes your soul. Some blast from the past continues to howl in your head in the silent moments of your day.
— Then there is the “wind of worry” that picks up as the brightness of the day evaporates.
— There is the “scorching scorn” of a fellow believer whom you once called “friend”–an injury that affects the soul as well as the body.
— There is the “hurricane of sorrow and grief” over loss.
— There is the “tempest of a broken heart” due to family or friends falling into temptation.
These are but a few of the squalls that blow across the landscape of our lives. No doubt you could add many more to the list. Whether or not you are currently experiencing some winds of adversity in your life, most assuredly some await you in the year that lies ahead. Here are some principles that should be helpful in order to keep your “beak into the wind”:
— Determine from which direction the wind is blowing. Discernment is needed to know from which source you are being attacked. “A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth” (Pr. 17:24), i.e., a discerning person keeps the winds in view. Clear vision is pursued in prayer, and the one who discerns will have a teachable quality that facilitates a deep awareness of what the present conditions are on one’s personal “weather map.”
— Land facing the wind. Whenever a bird descends to a fence post, it lands facing the wind. If a meadowlark were to turn aside to the wind, it would only serve to give the wind a broad sail by which the little creature would be tossed aside. Jesus told His disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me” (Jn. 14:1). A person who trusts in God has the courage to stand “beak into the wind.” Turning aside can be devastating.
— Dig your ‘claws’ into something solid. Knowing the direction of the wind and landing facing it will be for naught if we don’t have something of substance to which to cling. When we face the squalls of life, it is necessary to be anchored deeply in the forever-established, totally infallible, never-failing, never-changing, absolute standard of God’s Word. “Forever, O LORD, Thy word is settled in heaven…O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day… From Thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path…Those who love Thy law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psa. 119:89, 97, 105, 165).
The Apostle Paul faced some gale-force winds during his walk as a believer and he learned to keep his “beak into the wind” and to “dig his claws” into the solidness of God’s Word. His testimony is given to us in Phil. 3:7-14. In this passage we see how Paul recognized from which way the wind was blowing. He knew what to turn his back on and which way to head, and on what to anchor his life. He realized the temporal nature and emptiness of the things the world considers gain–position, power, prestige, riches, toys–and saw it as rubbish in comparison to a close walk with the Lord. He got his life prioritized (vv. 7-11). He got his claws onto something solid (v. 12). He laid hold of that for which he was laid hold of by Christ Jesus, i.e., to be conformed to the image of Christ. He wasn’t satisfied with mediocrity or complacency, or just sliding on home. He put the things behind him that needed to be left there, he faced into the wind, and pressed on for the goal of being a faithful steward until Christ called him home.
Our ultimate example to follow, of course, is that of Jesus Christ, who was determined to accomplish the mission for which he came to earth. He faced many winds of adversity, but head on. He never flinched in His purpose in being here to become the sacrifice for our sins. We read in Luke 9:51: “And it came about, when the days were approaching for His ascension, that He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem.” He knew that in Jerusalem He faced betrayal, arrest, trial, torture, persecution, crucifixion, and separation from His Father. He could have just ascended back to heaven without going there, but where would that leave us??? Matthew, in his gospel, writes: “From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day” (Mt. 16:21). Peter even decided to dissuade Him from going. “And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.’ But He (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s’ ” (vv. 22,23).
We have, in fact, a whole “great cloud of witnesses” (believers from the past), who “kept their beaks into the wind” and stayed true to the Lord, no matter the adverse winds they faced. The author to the Hebrews speaks of them saying, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1-3).
So, as your face what the year ahead holds for you, “keep your beak into the wind” and keep your “claws” deep into the post–dig into the Word and face the future with anticipation and excitement.