Friday, January 22, 2010

We All Need A Good Threshing?

"His threshing fork is in his hand, and he is ready to separate the wheat from the husks. He will store the wheat in a barn and burn the husks in a fire that never goes out. " (Matthew 3:12, CEV)

In the midst of our modern society, I have to ask you, are you familiar with the process of threshing? Nowadays, we have high-tech farming implements that complete the task, but it's been a part of agriculture since antiquity. Threshing is the painstaking process of crushing wheat or another crop to separate the grain from the inedible part of the harvested plant.

In biblical times, and even now in less mechanical cultures, the threshing was followed by winnowing. This was accomplished by tossing the crushed product up in the air where the waste was blown away and the edible portion fell to the ground for gathering up. It was a method of keeping the good and eliminating the undesirable.

So why do I think it's worth your time to read about the process of threshing and winnowing? This is worthwhile because it is a great analogy for the work God is doing in each and every one of our lives, if we let him.

Although I've read it numerous times, God awakened me to a fascinating fact in His word. In 1 Chronicles 21:20-28 King David bought the threshing floor of Araunah to offer a sacrifice to God. This sacrifice was costly to David, and was made in repentance for disobeying the Lord. When David's son, Solomon, became the king, the temple was built on the exact spot of that threshing floor (2 Chronicles 3:1). The very Holy of Holies, the very place considered to be the dwelling place of Yahweh on earth, embellished with elaborate gold was built over the place where the good grain was separated from the undesirable chaff.

Is all this coincidence? There is no such thing in God's economy. Look in the Bible and you see countless references to farming and nature. The Lord uses practical examples to reveal spiritual truths.

How awesome is it that when man comes into God's presence, the process of separating the desirable from that which must be eliminated begins to take place! The pieces of our lives that are not like Christ -- selfishness, pride, addiction, gossip, all sin -- are removed one by one, painstakingly like the grain from the chaff. The good is gathered in. Growth in wisdom, fostering of godly friendships, charity, kindness, generosity all expand as we draw close to God.

Still, this is a crushing process. For parents of kids with special needs, the heartache, the finances, the physical weariness, the medical procedures, the battle with schools and the seeking of justice in society are all part of this painful sifting. And it costs us dearly. Like David, we come to the Lord paying a high price.

Nevertheless, just like the Temple, our Father is uniquely equipped to turn something agonizing into something of immense value, covered in pure gold. Only Jesus can use our hurts to create something beautiful (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4). How many times have our children's difficulties been used to touch another life? Watching our faith-filled struggles can bring others to an encounter with God. Respectfully fighting for changes in society can make the road smoother for other families. Even medical staff can be touched by watching our lives and how we move through them with the help of our Savior.

Persevere, my dear friend! It may not be fun to endure, but threshing is creating something beautiful in you. As we move through each trial with reliance on the Holy Spirit to help us keep the good and throw out the bad, we look more like Jesus. (See 2 Corinthians 3:18) And He's MUCH better looking than any of us!

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