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Dust Devil

Ragged pieces of dry, chopped corn leaves swirled in a dust devil’s tight embrace at the edge of the paved road, but this dust devil carried no dust. The only evidence of the turbulent wind was the debris it had picked up in the newly combined corn field.

Perhaps you’ve never seen what those of us from the Midwest call a “dust devil.” Imagine a tiny tornado on a warm, sunny day.

The whirlwind I saw was maybe a yard across and only fifteen or so feet high (less than a meter across by five meters tall). Since it was swirling over the grassy ditch, only the lightweight harvest debris was captured by the dust devil. Without it I wouldn’t have known that the air was rapidly rotating.

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You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”   John 3:7,8   MSG

Here on the plains we hear the wind rustling through grass, and we watch it rippling like waves over green fields. We see the wind turning the blades of windmills that are relics of the homesteaders’ water pumps as well as the modern-day giants that are generating electricity.


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I have been attending a series of courses on creativity, and on the day I saw the dust devil the speaker had explored the topic “Inspiration” and shared his personal journey with creativity. This is a community course, not church-sponsored, so I wasn’t surprised that neither the speaker or audience mentioned a Creator as a source of creativity or the work of the Spirit in inspiration.


As a believer, however, I am convinced that the Spirit exists. Although I do not see the Spirit (or the wind), I see its effects in nature, in my life, and in the lives of others.

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.   Romans 1:19,20   MSG


Our English word “inspire” comes from a Latin word inspirare, which means to “inflame or blow into.” The root word for “inspire” is the same as the one for “spirit.”

The Hebrew word ruach (from the Old Testament) means breath, wind, or spirit. In medical usage “inspire” means “to draw in breath or inhale.”

So we breathe in the invisible breath of God, and it brings us life. It inspires us. It changes us.


We see the world in new ways. The product of the invisible Spirit’s presence in our lives may be in echoing God’s creativity. He is pleased to share that part of His character with us. 


Despite the dust devil’s regrettable name, the little whirlwind has taught me a lesson about

  • looking for the visible signs of an invisible Spirit and
  • the source of and inspiration for God’s creative work in my life and my creative response.

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The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.   John 3:8   NIV

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