CLEAVAGE and THE ART OF SIFTING

I've been thinking about wheat. Some people (like my friend Rach) can't eat wheat. But back in the day when Jesus was hanging out on earth it was pretty important stuff and I think most people ate it. 
I was reading today about sifting wheat, and at first I was thinking 'sifting' wheat was 
something Giada does in the kitchen. 
You know - the gal with the designer aprons and sparkly cleavage who sifts flour and stuff to make her homemade-fancy-baked-goods turn out all fluffy.  At least I think that's what sifting does. I guess. Because I've never sifted anything in my life. I mean, the back of the Betty Crocker box 
doesn't even mention sifting. 
Classy, I know. 


Wheat has the potential to nourish, but it can't be eaten until it's sifted.
Back in the day before Combines, workers would spread the wheat out on a stone or concrete  threshing floor and beat the wheat with a flail. 



Now, I had heard of a flail before, but I thought of it in terms of corporal punishment, 
or what I look like when I decide to be a boss and hit the dance floor.






So I Googled it. Here's a picture of a flail.
It's designed to loosen the husk of the wheat.  Ninjastyle.



So after the husks are pulverized, the wheat is winnowed by tossing everything up into the air, and the husks (which are lighter and are also called chaff) are separated from the kernel. The heavy, valuable kernels fall back to the floor, and 
the useless junk is blown away in the wind.



Sifting is kind of a brutal process.

After the Last Supper, Jesus said something kind of freaky to Peter.
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:30-32

Huh.
Back in the day, everyone knew what it meant to 'sift' wheat.
So I wonder what Peter thought when Jesus said that to him.
'Cause like I said, sifting is kind of a brutal process.
*
Hey Jesus, how about pray that I'm not sifted? How about pray that I'm just a strong beast of faith?
And doesn't the Bible have all kinds of things to say about blessing and prosperity and such?
I'll take the Sift-free option, thank you very much.
*
But this passage is sounding like Jesus gave permission for Peter and the Gang to be sifted, doesn't it?
And sifting is awful, really. Agonizing. 
Peter was headed for the threshing floor.

But if you know anything about the history of the early church, 
you know that Peter was a key player.
His name meant THE ROCK.
And guess what?  Peter was ultimately used to 'strengthen his brothers'.
When?  
After he was sifted.
ouch.

Stay with me.

Is it possible there are times and places we can only be used
after we have been sifted?

When someone is grieving
suffering
wasting away
Is it possible there is a language that is only spoken by the Sifted?
Are there beautiful words that flow mysteriously from the hearts of those 
who have been beaten down, defeated, brutalized? 
Is there a comfort that can only be brought by those 
who have known desolatation, suffering, desperation?
Those who can see the need and sit still in the knowing?

When did we become so allergic to suffering?
When did it become okay to see hardship and pain as just a tool of the devil?

I am sifted
and then I can be used in ways I didn't know were possible.
I can offer hope.
Not a song that says the sun'll come out tomorrow.
That the glass is half full.
That everything will be okay.
But TRUE HOPE.

"OPTIMISM and HOPE aren't the same thing." - Mark O.

Don't settle for optimism
when you are offered hope.

Long for the deep, the beautiful, the broken.
Long for the Healer and the Giver of true life.

Don't sidestep the threshing floor.
Pray for strength.
Let the useless junk blow away.
And maybe one day you'll sit still in the knowing
and speak the language 
and embrace what is possible
when you are Sifted. 

3 comments:

  1. Cripes this is good.
    Need to print it out and tape it to my mirror.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Saw your post through pinterest. What a beautiful analysis.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautiful thoughts. I agree. The sifting process, although often painful, grows us in ways we never would have grown. It is beautiful!

    ReplyDelete