Sifting Season

 

5 Best Flour Sifters For Your Kitchen

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift 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 22:31-32 NIV

 When I first started baking—back in the dark ages of kitchen technology—almost every recipe that called for flour required that it be sifted. So when I furnished my first apartment, I bought a neat little avocado green sifter. And I used it, too.

Nowadays I don’t even own a sifter. Not because I don’t bake—well, I bake sometimes—flour just doesn’t need to be sifted anymore. It’s missing the lumps and the extra protein, a.k.a. bugs, that were once reasons for sifting. Plus the compacting that occurs when flour is handled and stored (in my case, for long periods of time) isn’t the problem it used to be.

Our modern flour caters to our hurry-up lifestyle. Anything that eliminates a step or two and shortens the process is the way to go.

But even with modern flour, sifting still can be beneficial. It separates and aerates the flour particles so they absorb better the liquids called for in the recipe. And sifting gives the flour a silky texture, fluffy and light.

Like flour, we, too, need to be sifted. Modern times have increased, rather than decreased, the need to separate the good stuff from the bad. Life’s rough handling leaves us with lumps of pain and confusion, and the bugs of an increasingly godless culture infect our minds, hearts, and spirits without us being aware of it or wanting it to. Overcrowded schedules press us down, leaving us helplessly wedged under the weight of too many commitments and too little time.

So every now and then we enter what I call the sifting season—a season of trouble, of heartache and pain, of problems with no answers and seemingly hopeless situations over which we have no control and which don’t make any sense to us.

Discouragement and doubt settle in for a long, unwelcome stay. We pray, but the ears of Heaven seem closed. We ask, but don’t receive. We seek, but can’t find. We knock, but the door remains shut tight.

Like the psalmist, we weep in despair, “Why have you forgotten me?” (Psalm 42:9).

But God has not forgotten us. He has allowed this season for a purpose: to sift us like flour, so that our lumps of stubbornness and selfishness are broken up, the bugs that have contaminated our very souls are removed, and we absorb better the truth and wisdom of God’s Word. It is during these times the wheat is separated from the chaff as we learn what’s really important and what we can do without.

The sifting takes time, for the life of faith is not a hurry-up lifestyle. There are no shortcuts to holiness.

But, like all seasons, the sifting season will come to an end, and we’ll have the texture of a more mature Christian—silky, fluffy, light, and free, and much better able to be used in the recipes of God.

Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. (Psalm 42:5).

Read and reflect on 1 Peter 1:3–9; Psalm 42

 © 2012 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Deep Waters

Punxsutawney Area School District swimming pool (where I have water aerobics twice a week and where I learned to swim)

 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. —Isaiah 43:2 NIV

The first couple of times I jumped off the low diving board at the local swimming pool, I landed on the sloped side near the ladder, so I didn’t think it was a problem that I couldn’t swim.

A teenage girl wants to do the things her friends are doing, right? And I was tired of playing it safe in the shallow water while everyone else was having a blast in the deep end of the pool. Back then I didn’t even know how to tread water. The only thing I knew how to do was the dead man’s float.

“How hard could it be?” I thought as I watched the others splashing off the diving board that long ago summer day. All I had to do was hop off the side so I landed on the slope near the ladder. So I swallowed my trepidation and took my place in line.

My strategy worked twice. The third time, however, I plunged into waters above my head.

I don’t remember how many times I bobbed to the surface, panicked and thrashing, my short life passing before my closed eyes. Then strong arms pulled me to safety. As I sat on the concrete beside the crowded pool, gasping and trembling, a lifelong fear was born.

For five decades, deep water terrified me. My kids all learned to swim, no thanks to me. When we went swimming, I stayed in the shallow water. When we went boating, I made sure I had a life vest strapped on tight.

Then my son bought an above-ground pool. Hot summer days found me cooling off in sun-warmed water that only came up to my neck. I learned to tread water and to propel myself beneath the surface. I practiced floating and splashed from one side of the pool to the other. As long as I could touch bottom (and my head was above the water), I was fine.

One long, cold winter, much like this one, I bought a pass for the indoor pool at the local middle school and began swimming lessons. I gave myself a couple of months to swim from one end of the pool to the other.

But I met that goal at the end of my second lesson, swimming on my back, my instructor beside me every stroke of the way.

“You’re doing fine,” she’d say. “Just a little farther.”

And so I kept going—swimming in twelve feet of water—something I didn’t think I’d do for a long time. But I couldn’t have done it without my instructor there beside me, encouraging me, giving me confidence with her presence.

It’s the same way with my swim through life.

When I must navigate deep waters, I’m not alone. My Instructor is beside me, encouraging me, ready to pull me out should I go under. His presence gives me the confidence I need to push on, just a little farther, stroke by stroke, until I finally reach the other side.

 Thank you, Father God, that You never leave me or forsake me—even when I get in over my head. Amen.

 Read and reflect on Isaiah 43:1–7.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.