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.

When God Says “No”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. ­–Proverbs 3:5–6 NLT

When we lived in town and our oldest was still a baby, we rented a second-floor apartment but yearned for a house of our own. When the house across the street – one I’d admired since we’d moved in two years earlier – came up for sale, we applied for a mortgage. And were turned down.

No surprise. We didn’t have the finances and weren’t in any position to buy a house.

But I was angry. Angry at God. I wanted that house in the worst way. So what if it was practically on the street and had a postage-stamp backyard?

I threw a royal hissy fit.

In time, God worked with me, softening my spirit so I could hear His voice. Psalm 37 spoke to me, especially verses 3 and 4: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (RSV)

I took this as God’s promise to me that Dean and I would someday have a house of our own, with plenty of land around it. In times of doubt I’d read the psalm over again, clinging to verses 9, 11, and 34, believing against circumstances that we would one day “possess the land.”

I’d always dreamed of a house in the country, but I’d wanted that house in town so badly, I was willing to forego my dream home.

As I look back – that was over 40 years ago – I see how events played out, orchestrated by Almighty God, who had something better in mind when He said “no” to the house in town. We have our dream home in the country, with 13 acres surrounding it.

When King David planned to build a temple for God in Jerusalem, God said “no”: “You shall not build a house for My name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight” (1 Chronicles 22:8 NKJV).

Talk about a slap in the face! The wars David fought were so Israel, God’s people, would have peace. The blood he shed was Israel’s enemies’ blood. And this was the thanks he got? David wouldn’t get to build the Temple, but his son Solomon would.

If that were me, I’d have a hissy fit, whining and complaining and reminding God of all the good things I’d done for Him, and why I deserved a “yes.”

But David accepted God’s “no” and got everything ready for Solomon. He drew up the building plans, gathered materials, developed a schedule for the priests and singers once the temple was completed. No wonder God called David a “man after My own heart.”

Then there was the Apostle Paul, the great force behind the explosion of the first century church. He was whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and jailed, all for Christ. Three times he asked God to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” which added suffered on to suffering. Three times God said “no.”

Like David, Paul accepted God’s answer, realizing that God’s “no” meant something better: His grace.

Prayer is not a vending machine. You don’t plunk in your request and wait for your selection to drop down from heaven.

But rest assured: God hears and He will answer: yes, not now, or “I have something better in mind.”

When God says “no,” how do you react? Do you pout, get angry, doubt God, lose your faith? Go after what you want anyway, and make yourself miserable?

Or accept God’s answer and find peace, knowing that His answer will always be the best one for you.

Thank You, all-knowing and all-wise God, for always working in ways that are best for me. Amen.

Read and meditate on 2 Samuel 7:1–14 and 2 Corinthians 12:1–10

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.