Sorted and Sifted

All has been quiet on the page of late. I wish I could say the same of my life! Since I last wrote we have had another onslaught of illnesses and germs, which began late in June in the form of a two week sparring session with strep. I find myself longing for restful days, for weeks without a trip to Urgent Care. Again I find myself worn down (which is probably why I got sick too. Twice.)

I won’t mislead you; there have been days where we’ve felt good and gone on fun outings. But mostly the last month has involved recovering. Much has had to be released; whatever is not an imminent need has found its way to the altar. I feel as if I am being sorted and sifted.  I know I am not the only one.

There’s a historical account of sifting in the book of Luke, beginning in chapter 22. It was a time of celebration; every year the Jews observed the Passover meal, remembering God’s deliverance. As Jesus and his disciples gathered, our own Savior shared how very much he looked forward to eating the Passover meal with those he loved, before his time of suffering. After the meal Jesus indicated that one of those he had poured into would betray him. Suspicions against each other led to arguing over who was greatest (not the first time Jesus dealt with this issue). None believed himself capable of forsaking his Lord and Teacher.

 In Luke 22:31 Jesus tells Peter to stay aware, for Satan has asked to sift all of them like chaff from wheat. Sifting, as referenced here, is not the gentle fluffing involved in creating a favorite recipe, but rather, the violent threshing that happens to the plant itself long before the ground wheat reaches our pantry.This biblical example of threshing is not something that most city dwellers have experienced, so to understand the physical process, I did a little research. The actual separation is brutal, for the wheat itself does not begin as two pieces. The chaff is a true part of the plant; it’s the hard husk that surrounds the wheat berry (the edible part of the plant that is ground into flour after the separation). 

The husk does have its purpose. It protects the grain as it grows, shielding it from storms and predators. But the need for protection is temporary. In order for the plant to serve its true, life sustaining purpose, the husk must be removed- much like the walls that spring up around our hearts and minds in difficult circumstances. We are wired to protect ourselves during trauma. From personal experience I know that coping mechanisms are innate. Yet there comes a time, as we move forward in the healing process, when the hardened layers of protection must be broken through, so God can draw out that which gives us life and freedom. The process may seem harrowing, but wellness is worth the work. 

For the wheat plant, the removal, or threshing, of the wheat berry involves beating it until the wheat berry is separated from the husk. Doing it by hand is hard labor. Doing it in heart and mind, well, that is all out warfare. Separating a part from itself is back breaking, soul rending work. But when God allows me to be sifted, it’s because sifting is needed. Old habits, like the hard husk casings, may have served to protect me in the past. But to move forward, to see healing in the now, some ways of thinking, and some habits of response need to be broken- for my own wholeness. 

My prayer, 

Oh, Father God, I know you want to do a new work in my heart, soul, and mind. I know I’ve resisted, and fussed over not just the change, but the work involved. I declare the truth that you have my best interest at heart. I believe that the work you are doing is for my good, to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Be my strength, teach me to rely on you for wisdom and discernment, open my eyes to truth. In the name of Jesus I renounce every lie I’ve believed about your plans and purposes for me. (List them, out loud, followed by Truth.) Be my light, guiding me into all truth, drawing me to the place you have for me; the place of greater wholeness. Thank you Jesus, for fighting for me. Equip me to join in the battle with you, for my own wellness. 

~Just Me 

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