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.

An Alexander Kind of Year

ALEXANDER_TERRIBLE_HORRIBLE

 

Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

In her children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, author Judith Viorst writes about a boy named Alexander who’s having the worst day of his life. Everything that could go wrong does.

It’s been that kind of year. Although I cringe to describe 2015 as a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” year, frankly it was. It’s been a challenge to keep a positive attitude and not dwell on all the Alexander-type events that have occurred. I’ve often felt like Elijah under the broom tree (1 Kings 19:3–4), when he whined, “I have had enough, LORD.”

I’m not unlike Alexander, who dreamed of escaping to Australia, where he thinks things will be better. Or Elijah, who told God he was ready to come home. I, too, long for a place of peace and rest, where there are no problems to deal with.

Oh, to be sure, the enemy has tempted me to dwell on all the “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” things that have occurred and give in to whining, hurtling myself into a pit of self-pity. But God tells me that focusing on the good things will give me the peace I long for (Philippians 4:8, 9).

Psalm 46 is the prescription for the Alexander times in our lives: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore (I) will not fear . . .” (verses 1, 2).

On a day no too long ago when I was feeling the stress of these Alexander times and not bearing up well, I received a handmade card from a friend. On the front were the words I needed that day: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm. 46:10).

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I put on armor each day. What I forgot to mention is that, even with my armor on, my back is still vulnerable. You see, I can only fight a foe in front of me, and the enemy often strikes from behind—attacking at our weakest points.

But I don’t have to worry: “For the LORD will go before (me), the God of Israel will be (my) rear guard” (Isaiah 52:12). And again: “The glory of the LORD will be (my) rear guard” (Isaiah 58:8). God’s got my back!

Yes, it’s been an Alexander kind of year.

But through it I’ve seen the power of prayer, I’ve sensed the presence of a God who knows me well and loves me still (Psalm 139). I’ve perceived there’s a purpose for the pain, even though I don’t see it or understand it. I’ve learned that in spite of everything, prayer brings a peace that transcends understanding (Philippians 4:6–7). And I’m getting better at Philippians 4:8 kind of thinking.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my God will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

“See,” He says, “I have engraved you on the palms of My hands” (Isaiah 49:16).

Thank you, Father, for being with me in those “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” times of my life, for helping me to see there’s a purpose for them, and for giving me Your peace in the midst of them. Amen.
 

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 46 and Isaiah 49:13–16