When I was a child, my mother used to make biscuits from scratch every morning. They were incredible little servings of heaven on a plate. These delicacies had everything a growing boy needs to become bigger and stronger than all of the other growing boys his age.
She would take real flour and sift it into a pile that looked like a little snow covered mountain. Then she would take two fingers and fashion a little cavern at the top. Lard (yes, animal fat), milk (buttermilk on special occasions), salt, and a generous portion of love were all thrown into the flour volcano, each element unmeasured, but always in the right amounts and at the right time.
Following this, Mom would work the dough together with her hands (she never used a spoon). Then she rolled out the dough and cut it into these huge round "cat-head" biscuits. Subjecting the dough to the crucible of the oven created the best biscuits ever!
For the next few posts, I'd like to examine God: The Biscuit Maker. How he uses my mother's biscuit making methods to create in us a spirit filled disciple, fit for use in his kingdom.
Today's subject is sifting...
"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat..." Luke 22:31
When making biscuits, Mom would place raw (clumpy) flour into a sifter and bang the side of the cannister until a finer, more usable powder would appear. The flour was made usable by being forced through a mesh-type screen at the bottom of the cannister; separated into its smallest elements and then reunited in the "flour mountain."
For Peter, the sifting process was the same. In a span of less than 24 hours, he declared his unwavering loyalty, received an unflattering prophecy, and denied his master with uncharacteristic cowardice. How ashamed he must have been when, the Lord turned and looked at him after his final denial. (Luke 22:61) I can't think of any disciple who endured the emotional and spiritual beating Peter took during that short span of incredible crisis. This very raw fisher/follower was truly broken down into his smallest parts by being forced through a spiritual screen that would destroy his arrogance forever.
Sifting is an uncomfortable and necessary process for every disciple. God still sifts. Through circumstances we never seek and people we never expect, God allows us to be shaken and screened. It may be the loss of a job, the disloyalty of a spouse, the harsh words and anger of a friend, or an unexpected illness. But God allows this world to sift us, because if he didn't, we would think that what we have become in Him is our own doing...much like Peter. If we allow it, God will make us into something incredible. If we do not allow the sifting, we are destined to mediocrity and spiritual emptiness.
"...and you, when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:32)
Just remember, Jesus had no plans for Peter to be sifted forever. He knew that His will for Peter would be manifested in powerful and significant ways. Jesus feels the same way about you. If you want to be a disciple of Christ, and have not been sifted, fasten your chinstrap because its coming. If you are going through sifting, remember two things: It is necessary...It is temporary. Like Peter, you will "turn again," and will be better prepared to strengthen your brothers. That's our calling. - JD