““Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”” Luke 22:31-32
I am sitting in the desert with the only sound a random passing car from time to time, a fly buzzing around, and the sound of my husband sifting dirt for processing. I have only sifted dirt a few times, it is a lot of work by hand. I have also sifted flour for baking, and even that gets tiring especially if you are baking with a lot of flour that needs sifting.
Most people don’t sift flour anymore for baking because we have processed flour that has already been sifted. Me miss the lesson in the tedious process. I don’t even remember what recipes we used to make that needed the flour sifted, only that as the youngest I usually got to do it. My hand and bicep muscles would be sore and I would switch between hands often.
This passage came to mind as I listened to the sound of sifting dirt. My husband has dug a hole about thigh deep, sifting out the bigger rocks that he does not need to process. He usually ends up with a bit of a sun burn and exhausted from just a few hours of digging and sifting.
Sifting dirt, I use both hands and take request breaks. The purpose is to separate the big rocks from the fine dirt. My husband has different size screens depending on what dirt he is processing. sometimes he gets it to gravel size, and other times just bigger than sand. The site we are at today, has very fine gold so he can screen out a lot before running it through the sluce box.
Satan also likes to sift us. God allows it as a refining process in our faith, but Satan is hopeful that he will be able to toss us aside with the chaff to be burned up. Only we can decide if we are willing to let go of the chaff that surrounds us and allow our faith to be refined.
I know for myself, when I am being tested and tried, I usually want to process to end. Satan is relentless and comes back time and again, often bringing smaller screens to sift me through. I think about the things that God has walked me through and I can see the boulders that were removed from my life that I didn’t think I can get past. Looking back, I can see the pile of boulders, then rocks, then gravel and sand that have been sifted from my life.
As a teenager, I walked away from God. Even after I came back to Him, I still clung to the boulders that He tried to remove from my life. It took four years of sifting just for me to release those habits that only lead to destruction. Satan was persistent, but I thank God that He was there through it all. Now, I use those experiences to strengthen those God brings into my sphere of influence.
If you thought that those major life changes, were all that is needed to live the carefree Christian club, let me be the first to say, I did too. It’s a lie. The truth is, God loves us right where we are, He accepts us right where we are. However He loves us to much to leave us there.
Babies are comfortable having all their needs met, being fed, having their diaper changed, being carried. Yet any good parent knows that they can’t stay that way. As much as we love those innocent little babies, we have to teach them to grow and do things for themselves. No parent wants to be breastfeeding their 18 year old child, changing their diapers and carrying them everywhere. Even when children have disabilities, parents still try to give them the opportunity to grow and do what they can for themselves as they age.
And so the sifting continued. I was raised in church, so I had a lot of engrained information that was taught by man, but not necessarily in the Bible. I definitely had some religious strongholds that needed to be sifted off my life. In addition, I had a lot of hurts in my life that really weighed me down. My child understanding of events that took place left me feeling rejected and uncared for. I had a lot of unprocessed emotions to sift through. Having walked through addiction, divorce, being a single parent, and homelessness, in addition to just every day hurts, I had a lot of anger that needed to be sifted through.
For the next thirteen years at least, I was sifted, as God refined my faith. A lot just faded away. When it comes to memory, it feels like a movie I watched, not something I experienced. Other areas He strengthened me and showed me His hand through the situations I walked.
I thought after all that I was done with the sifting. I don’t feel like it is as constant now, just more intense when it comes. I feel like it is more refining of purpose now, as my faith has held strong. I recognize it, and don’t try to resist as I did initially. I know that God has a purpose for it, and that the process can be sped up if I stop trying to grasp hold and just let go.
Sifting takes a lot of energy from Satan, so if the enemy is going to do it, there must be something greater that God can bring out of it. When I look at the life of Peter, he went from denying Christ to 53 days later preaching a message that saved thousands. He and the other disciples turned the world upside down with the empowering of the Holy Spirit.