This is the discussion page for chapters 5-6 of the novel, Escape from Paradise.
1) The Wind
The wind represents the Holy Spirit. Both the Greek and Hebrew words for “spirit” are also the words for “wind” or “breath.”
Of the three persons in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the one who is described in terms of greatest nearness to us. We picture the Father as being in heaven, Jesus as the bridge between earth and heaven, and the Holy Spirit all around us, inside us as the personal delivery system of all the Father and Son give us.
The wind is invisible yet has awesome power. And through his unseen pressure, he guides us.
2) The Plants
When Adam attempts to go in the direction the wind is pressing him, he meets the resistance of the foliage. Those plants represent the world’s efforts to counteract the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit guides us one way, and the world pushes against that and makes it difficult.
|Nothing he did mattered. He couldn’t imagine anything he could ever do would matter. His efforts to save the city from disintegration had been futile. He had no idea where he was from, and he had nowhere to go. It wasn’t only this world that was half-real—he had become part of this empty place and his very life lacked substance. … He might as well have lived no life at all. -p.59|
In what ways are unbelievers’ thinking and the way of life empty/futile? See 1 Peter 1:18; Romans 1:21; Ephesians 4:17—19.
Ro.1:21 – Their thinking is devoid of meaning because it disconnects reality from God.
Eph.4:17-19 – They live in darkness and ignorance resulting in separation from the life of God. Their lives revolve around sensual experiences and miss the greater realities.
Why is it so important that we understand the worthlessness and emptiness of our former way of life? See Romans 6:21—22. Compare Exodus 3:7 with their later memory in Numbers 11:5.
When we forget about our former bondage and the emptiness of that life, we’re tempted to return to it. We forget the misery it caused and the death it brought, just as the Israelites quickly forgot about the misery of their bondage in Egypt and could only remember the food.
Read 2 Timothy 2:20—23. In what ways would the sins of verses 22-23 make you a useless vessel in God’s house? And how could avoiding them increase your usefulness?
The word for “desires” in v.22 refers to coveting or greed (greed for money, for sexual pleasure, for attention, etc.). When greed for something infects my heart, I become less useful to God because Satan can use that greed to lead me around by the nose and derail what God calls me to do. I spend more time an energy going after than thing I’m greedy for than God’s work.
How does the busyness of earthly concerns threaten to harm us spiritually? See Luke 14:15—24; Mark 4:18—19. According to those passages, what is at stake in the matter?
In the story it sounds ridiculous that the people would pass up the banquet because of a new cow (just look at the cow after the banquet). But that’s how earthly distractions are. They can seem so big and important in the moment. So I don’t go to Bible study because I need to get the house cleaned for some guests. Or I cut my prayer time short because I’m distracted about how I was overcharged on my water bill.
Having too much busyness can make us feel pressure that’s out of balance with actual importance. I have 14 things I need to get done, and having that many loose ends makes me feel pressured, so I put all my energy into getting those things done and catching up on my to-do list. But if I would take a step back and think clearly about how important those things are, I might realize that most of them are of so little importance that they don’t merit the amount of pressure they are putting on me.
What’s at stake in the matter? Nothing less than eternal life itself! People will go to hell because they became preoccupied with a land purchase or a car or getting their lawn mowed.
|Both the wind and foliage seemed to have wills of their own, but with opposite purposes. The wind pushed Adam toward the cottage, and the plants blocked his way. But which should he trust in this wind-versus-world contest? -p.63|
God draws us to himself (see chapter 1, question 8). The influences of the world resist that. What are some ways you have felt both God drawing you to come nearer to him and also felt the world’s (or your flesh’s) resistance in recent days?
I have had a lot of feelings of being under pressure to get things done. That pressure has produced anxiety and affected my sleep. I take this as God calling me to come find rest in him.
The resistance has come from the pressure itself. While I’m having my morning prayer time, I’m tempted to wrap it up quickly so I can get started on that day’s tasks.
|His irrational fears—imagined noises and faces in the trees—evaporated, replaced by a different kind of dread. A force so much greater than he … sustaining his life. And now it moved upon him. -p.62|
What role does fear play in whether you are influenced more by God than by the world? See Isaiah 51:12—13.
I am most influenced by that which I fear most. If I fear rejection by people more than I fear God’s displeasure, then I’ll be more motivated to please people than I will to please God.
|The atmosphere moved upon him. He would not resist it.|
He noticed a bright blue substance smeared on his shirtsleeve. … He gripped a sturdy vine to steady himself, and the vine snapped in his fist. Amazed at his own strength, he pulled at another. It gave way like burnt rope. –p.63
Give a specific, practical example of how the Galatians 5:16 principle might work.
At lunchtime, I feel like eating out, but I know that in this instance, it wouldn’t be wise (which means God wouldn’t be pleased if I did it). So I make a sandwich. Later, I feel like turning on the TV, but I know God would be more pleased if I made some important phone calls. So I do that. Then later that day I face the kind of temptation I usually fall to, but since I’ve been making small decisions all day to keep in step with the Spirit, I have the strength to resist.
Alternatively, if I let my flesh call the shots at lunchtime, and later when it wants to watch TV, I’m out of step with the Spirit, and when the big temptation comes, I fall.
Both Greek and Hebrew use the same word for wind, spirit, and breath. Only the context reveals which is being described. What are some reasons you can think of why God chose this word to describe the third Person of the Trinity? See John 3:8 for one example.
The example in John 3:8 highlights the invisibility and unpredictability of both wind and the Holy Spirit.
Wind is also similar to the Holy Spirit in that it is powerful. That power hinders or empowers our progress depending on our direction (whether we are cooperating with or resisting the Spirit).
Additionally, wind touches you and can be felt. The most common image of the Father in Scripture is that he is in heaven. Jesus is between heaven and earth as a bridge. But the Holy Spirit is near us—inside us. Of the members of the Trinity, it is the Spirit who has the most immediate, close connection with us, much like the wind, which surrounds us and touches every part of us.
Finally, the Holy Spirit is like breath in that it is breath that gives us life (Gn.2:7). In the same way, the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual life.
One way the Spirit is different from wind is that the Holy Spirit is a person. Wind is impersonal.
What kind of work does the Holy Spirit do in the hearts of unbelievers prior to conversion? See John 16:8; Acts 7:51.
Jn.16:8—-He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
Acts 7:51—The Spirit draws unbelievers to God and shines the light of truth in their hearts. But that action can be resisted.
As an aside for the Calvinists among us:
This is a significant point for those who believe regeneration must happen prior to faith because mankind is incapable of responding to God’s drawing while being spiritually dead. That doctrine takes the analogy of spiritual death too far. Prior to salvation, we can be compared to a corpse in some ways, but not in every way. For example, a corpse can’t disobey. Unbelievers, even though they are spiritually dead, are capable of responding in both positive and negative ways to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit draws us, sometimes for years, before we finally respond in faith.