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.

Storm Warning

storm

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

As I write this, Hurricane Hermine, now downgraded to a tropical storm, is wreaking havoc across the Southeast, threatening beachgoers who’d hoped to spend the holiday weekend that officially marks the end of summer enjoying the sand and surf. High winds, torrential rains, and flooding, as well as power outages, are impacting not only the Eastern Seaboard, but also farther inland.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Lester threatens Hawaii.

Here in Western Pennsylvania, though, a pleasant weekend with plenty of sunshine and warmth (minus the heat and humidity) is forecast. Hurricanes that travel up the East Coast usually don’t affect us, although there have been times they have, mostly with rain and flooding. Those times, however, are few and far between. Thank heaven.

But we’ve had our share of thunderstorms this summer. The abundance of rain has all but ruined our garden. And then there are the winter storms, which probably make up for the lack of hurricanes.

And we sure get our share of personal storms, don’t we?

None of us want to endure storms that arrive, often unheralded, on our horizons. Storms of illness, accident, financial setback, relationship problems, a rebellious child, a loved one’s death. Storms that arrive and stay around awhile, siphoning our strength and battering our spirits.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live a life in which we suffered no pain, no grief, no sorrow? We’d never cry, never have our hearts broken, never hurt, never be disappointed, discouraged, or depressed. There’d be no need for medicine to numb our physical and emotional pain.

But, as a wise friend once told me, “You won’t have heaven until you get there.”

Storms are a part of life. “The years of our life are threescore and ten (70), or even by reason of strength, fourscore (80); yet their span is but toil and trouble” (Psalm 90:10).

While you can’t escape the storms, you can, like the residents of the Southeast, prepare for them. How?

First, by knowing that you are not alone. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Second, by knowing that God hears your cries for help and answers. “But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:16–17).

Third, by knowing that, if you truly love God and are doing your best to follow Him and do what He wants you to do, everything – even the bad times – will work for your good. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, emphasis mine).

Fourth, by knowing that with God, you can overcome anything. “If God be for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

And finally, by knowing that God loves you and nothing can separate you from that love. “I am convinced that nothing can separate us from His love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39).

When hurricanes appear on my life’s horizon, Lord, remind me that You are in the midst of the storm. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 46