Years ago, I heard an inspirational talk about the “Four Winds That Blow.” Although air is seemingly insubstantial, often it courses with prevailing force. A mark of one’s ability not only to endure but also to go against such strong currents is knowing well the four quarters from whence they come. Insight will help keep your boat sailing, even when there is no wind, when you feel like throwing in the towel, wondering why you or anyone else should care.
The cold North Wind is one of the strongest that blows. If it doesn’t snow you under, it can motivate you to keep you moving. This squall bolsters spirits or chills, causing one to lose heart. When we are unprepared or afraid to live out the faith we profess, or even apologize for it, this wind will put you on the rocks, sink your ship or blow apart your sails. Through "squabbling," one badly timed and discouraging remark can turn another off, freeze them, so to speak, from a future chance at advancing courageously in life.
The East Wind brings unusual weather, like fog and rain which can obscure your ability to see clearly what matters most, as it throws off your depth of vision. It challenges you to learn to adjust to various problems and concerns that may intimidate or confuse about God’s will for you. Maintaining and even updating the map of faith will help you to orient yourself in the right direction until these breezes calm down. Learn to adapt from gusts that unsettle, realizing setbacks are short term. Things ultimately come around for the one who prays.
The Warm Southern Winds can stop a boat dead in the water, as it lulls you into complacency. “I know I should do this...but I can’t be bothered right now; it can wait until tomorrow.” Such a false sense of security can make us forget that we are ultimately responsible for our own decisions. Southern Winds have been known to craft illusions and create a sleepy, dreamy approach to living life; but easy-going feelings falter in the deadly calm, and one quickly falls behind, sometimes ending up completely alone.
The Western Breezes tend to be favorable: when they blow, we get moving, our sails seem ripe with fortune’s blessings. But such winds of good fortune rarely last as one would hope. After a few days or weeks of blissful success, we will have the north wind to fight again, or another powerful draft from some other direction. Our personal integrity and moral character will help us to ride out these various winds, and perhaps prove we can be of invaluable assistance to others when they forget to check or even lose their moral compass.
On reflection, there seems to be a final Fifth Wind, named after Aeolus, the ancient Greek keeper of the wind. Aeolian Winds produce a moaning or sighing sound like a musical tone as they whistle by. Ultimately the source and summit of all winds, these drafts can arise even from within as they help one endure despite life’s many vicissitudes. Such currents provide what has been called the music of the spheres, otherwise known as joyous laughter of the saints in heaven, and their true source is the Holy Spirit who carries and sustains us through life. Their direction moves always towards the Lord’s saving will, and with gracious harmony, they keep us from being stifled with despair. “And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven” (Mark 13:27).
"All praise to Him who makes the winds His messengers"! (Ps. 104:4)