A Word of Grace – January 9, 2017

Dear Friends,

California is being inundated by a series of wet storms conveyed by a phenomenon called an atmospheric river flowing warm air into the state mixing with colder air from the North Pacific.

It is said these are the strongest storms in ten years and there is a lot of flooding, downed trees, and mudslides. Some places are receiving 20 inches of rain per storm. There is a reason the coastal redwoods grow so tall here.

The reservoirs are full and the six year drought appears to be a thing of the past, but the state government refuses to call the drought over or even abated. Government never lets a public emergency go to waste in terms of opportunity to increase regulatory control.

I had to drive in from a leadership retreat in the desert this past Thursday so I could teach an afternoon class. As I drove up into the Banning Pass between the San Jacinto and San Bernardino Mountains, a storm cell was in full fury. There were several eighteen wheelers overturned blocking the east bound Interstate 10. Wind gusts were rocking my SUV.The rain was blowing horizontally. I could see a sand storm whipping up between the road and the base of the mountains. Low clouds were swirling around the freeway. It was harrowing for awhile, but I also felt a familiar excitement.

The day that my parents brought me home from the hospital after birth, I turned my face toward the open car window opened my mouth and drank in the breeze according to family lore. It must be true for I can never resist the power of a wind.

On our honeymoon, Patricia and I stood on grassy hills above Big Sur at sunset spreading our jackets wide and letting the gale howling off the open ocean lift and blow us backward up the hill.

One of the great hikes I’ve ever made was in forty-mile per hour winter winds along the bluffs above the Monterey Bay with my five month old son asleep snug and secure in a pack against my chest inside my parka.

I once called Patricia at 1:30 a.m. from the 22nd floor of a hotel in San Antonio to share with her the roar of an approaching Texas spring thunderstorm. I couldn’t sleep for my sheer joy over the wind and the lightning.

There are gaps high in the San Gabriel Mountains where I like to stand on the border between the high desert to the east and the ocean plain to the west. The wind shrieks through these gaps in the rush of pressure changes between the two climate zones. One of my favorite places of prayer is the trunk of a giant, gnarled cedar that clings to the cliff-edge beside one of these natural wind tunnels.

The wind is an expression of God. David recognized this. “The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars…The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl and strips the forest bare, and in his temple all say, ‘ Glory’ (Ps. 29:5, 9).

When the Holy Spirit manifested to the New Testament believers at Pentecost, it arrived from heaven “like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2).

Like its Creator, the wind breaks what resists it. Caught on the open sea with nowhere to harbor, a ship can turn into the wind and be snapped in pieces or run with the wind and survive.  Paul described the choice: “A violent wind, called the northeaster, rushed down from Crete. Since the ship was caught and could not be turned head-on into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven” (Acts 27:14-15). 

To survive a violent storm, one either must find a place of shelter adequate to wait it out in safety, or become one with it riding the power of the wind. 

There is a storm front between the will of God and our human wills. Those who would live beyond that storm front must become at one with God, riding the Spirit’s power.

I take encouragement from the story of John Muir, the great naturalist and Christian believer, who sought to be one with the storm. Here is Muir’s story as told by Eugene Peterson:
In 1874, Muir visited a friend who had a cabin, snug in a valley of the Yuba River in the Sierra Mountains–a place from which to venture into the wilderness and then returning for a comforting cup of tea.
One December day a storm moved in from the Pacific–a fierce storm that bent the junipers and the pines, the madronas and fir trees as if they were so many blades of grass. It was for just such times this cabin had been built: cozy protection from the harsh elements. We easily imagine Muir and his host safe and secure in his tightly caulked cabin, a fire blazing against the cruel assault of the elements, wrapped in sheep skins, Muir meditatively rendering the wildness into his elegant prose. But our imaginations, not trained to cope with Muir, betray us. For Muir, instead of retreating to the coziness of the cabin, pulling the door tight, and throwing another stick of wood on the fire, strode out of the cabin into the storm, climbed a high ridge, picked a giant Douglas fir as the best perch for experiencing the kaleidoscope of color and the sound, scent and motion, scrambled his way to the top, and rode out the storm, lashed by the wind, holding on for dear life, relishing Weather: taking it all in–its rich sensuality, its primal energy.(Foreword to Luci Shaw, Water my Soul (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan 1998), pp. 9-10 retelling Edwin Way Teale ed. The Wilderness World of John Muir (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin 1954) pp. 181-190.
It is a treasured myth of the religious life that its goal is to find a safe haven for believers where they can be sheltered from the elements of change and the untamed Holy Spirit. It is a myth because the world turns and we grow. To seek shelter and hide is not to live out the life Christ lives in us. 

The call of God is a call to movement. The strength and peace that we are promised is a peace of heart in our inner being. There Christ dwells through our faith like my infant son bundled warm and secure against my chest, heart beat to heart beat, inside my parka as I walked through the winter gale. To avoid the wind is to give up on life as it was meant to be lived.

It was the wind (breath/spirit) of God that swept the earth and brought life and light from chaos and darkness at creation (Gen 1:2). It is the wind of the Spirit that created the life of Jesus (Luke 1:35 and 3:22). The wind of God’s Spirit holds the key to new and lasting life for all living things, even you and me. “When you send your Spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the earth” (Ps 104:30, NIV). Jesus spoke this truth to Nicodemus:
Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirt. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:5-8).
Are you hiding from the wind, hanging on against its power, obsessed with safety? Do you realize the futility of this effort?

Solomon observed– 
For every matter has its time and way, although the troubles of mortals lie heavy upon them. Indeed, they do not know what is to be, for who can tell them how it will be? No one has power over the wind to restrain the wind or power over the day of death; there is no discharge from the battle…. (Ecc 8:6-8)
Jesus, whom the wind and waves obey, calls you to cross the sea with him, to ride the wind through the dark to the other side. (Luke 8:22-23). “Where is your faith?” he asks (Luke 8:25). Your God, your help, comes for you “swiftly on the wings of the wind” (Ps 18:10). So turn from your fear and clenched handholds, run with the wind and live free in Christ.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who take refuge in him” (Ps. 34:8).

Under the mercy of Christ,



Please note that the content and viewpoints of Mr. Hansen are his own and are not necessarily those of the C.S. Lewis Foundation. We have not edited his writing in any substantial way and have permission from him to post his content.


Kent HansenKent Hansen is a Christian attorney, author and speaker. He practices corporate law and is the managing attorney of the firm of Clayson, Mann, Yaeger & Hansen in Corona, California. Kent also serves as the general counsel of Loma Linda University and Medical Center in Loma Linda, California.

Finding God’s grace revealed in the ordinary experiences of life, spiritual renewal in Christ and prayer are Kent’s passions. He has written two books, Grace at 30,000 Feet and Other Unexpected Places published by Review & Herald in 2002 and Cleansing Fire, Healing Streams: Experiencing God’s Love Through Prayer, published by Pacific Press in spring 2007. Many of his stories and essays about God’s encompassing love have been published in magazines and journals. Kent is often found on the hiking trails of the southern California mountains, following major league baseball, playing the piano or writing his weekly email devotional, “A Word of Grace for Your Monday” that is read by men and women from Alaska to Zimbabwe.