There were several times in Scotland when my mind would wander to an ancient Celtic blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.Celtic Blessing
There were days when we would walk a lot. One day we walked over 15 miles and, at times, up hills, or mountains.
During one difficult journey, I said, “I’m so glad the wind is at our backs! Can you imagine if we were walking into his wind?”
As I talked with locals, they would often mention the weather, including the wind. The wind can be brutal, especially if you were struggling against it. If the wind was blowing hard, even an easy walk could become troublesome.
The wind made the journey a little bit better. With the wind at our backs, I felt like we had an advocate with us, pushing us along.
I came to appreciate the Celtic blessing in a new way as we walked with the wind. I was grateful because having the wind at our back made the journey better.
But sometimes, the wind wasn’t at our back. The wind was right in our face making everything more difficult. If you can choose, always choose to walk with the wind!
In Acts 26, Paul tells of his conversion to Christianity to King Agrippa. At the time, Paul was persecuting churches by arresting Christians. As he rode to Damascus, he was knocked off his horse by a brilliant light, blinding him. He also heard a voice that said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.”
A goad was something a farmer would use to ‘encourage’ an ox to continue plowing by ‘touching’ the ox with the sharp end. Sometimes, an ox would kick back at the goad, thus hurting itself in the process.
“Kicking against the goads” is an image of disobedience that ends up hurting the one being disobedient. Saul, by persecuting the church, was actually hurting himself. His disobedience to the move of God’s Spirit was making life more difficult for Paul.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells Nicodemus that the wind blows where it chooses and you hear the sound of it, but you know not where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit (John 3:8). Jesus points out that God’s Spirit is moving just like the wind. We don’t control it, just like the wind. All we can do is either walk with the Spirit or move against the Spirit.
By telling Saul he was kicking against the goads, Jesus was telling Saul he was walking headfirst into the wind of God’s Spirit, moving against God’s desires!! Doing so would make life difficult. Saul decided it was much better to walk with God than against him, and changed directions as well as his name.
“May the wind always be at your back” is a blessed way to live. We don’t have much choice of whether the wind will be blowing at our back, but we can choose to always have God’s Spirit at our back. By living the prayer “Thy will be done” we acknowledge our desire to always have the Spirit of God moving us forward and we walk with him allowing the Spirit of God to move us along this journey.
The choice is completely up to us. What keeps us walking headfirst into the wind? What keeps us kicking against the goads? Life doesn’t have to be a fight against the “wind”.
May you always have the wind of God’s Spirit at your back because you walk with him!