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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Susan Hanson

Wednesday, November 18

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
—1 John 14:26

The hottest summer I ever spent was on my aunt and uncle’s farm outside of Harlingen, Texas, just north of the Rio Grande. Only five at the time, I lay awake nights, my face pressed against the window screen, my lungs parched from the lack of air. I had never known such stillness.

Though the Gulf of Mexico was less than 40 miles away, any breeze coming inland was dissipated long before it reached the farm. All that remained was a blanket of humidity and heat, and it was smothering.

Even now, where I live in Central Texas, summers can be stifling. “There’s no air,” I say to my husband on particularly oppressive days. What I wouldn’t give for a little wind, I tell him, a rustling in the trees, a cool breath across my skin.

Breath—that’s the image we get of the Holy Spirit in scripture. Referred to as ruach in Hebrew and pneuma in Greek, it is God’s enlivening presence, creating and sustaining the world.

In his conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus explained it this way: “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.” Just as we can “see” the wind only by its effects, we can know the Holy Spirit in much the same way. As our teacher, the Spirit leads us toward life, toward truth, toward love.

Most phenomenal of all, the Holy Spirit is God residing in us, reaching out to God beyond us, praying, as the book of Romans puts it, “with sighs too deep for words.”

O God, let your Spirit breathe new life into my soul, awakening what is asleep, empowering what has grown weary, resurrecting that which has died.

These Signposts were originally published on in 2005.