My sun porch

My sun porch

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Standing firm in the sifting...

"Simon, Simon, behold Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." -- Luke 22:31-32

In anticipation of the sifting
Here I stand.
A stalk of wheat in a huge field of my brothers and sisters.
I have grown from just a tiny sprout.
I fought my way through the soil
Stretching to feel the sun.
I let the rain, sun and soil nourish me.
Taller and taller I grew each day.
Green, though I was, I flourished.
Wind and storm came and tried to beat me down.
I reached up toward the sun and let it shine on me and in me.
Fruit developed at my top.
This is my purpose, to produce fruit.
That fruit will be nourishment for others.
It is the fruit that they search for.
As my color turns from green to tan, I know it's coming.

I feel the tremble of fear in my roots, but I reach for the sun again.
The cycle has been repeated again and again through time.
I will be ripped from the ground.
Violent shaking will happen to sift my fruit from my chaff.
The seeds at my top will be taken away, cleaned and processed.
Nutritious food will be made from the heart of me.
Bodies will be nourished and palates will be satisfied.
I know that is my purpose.
That is why the Father created me.
I know this, but I anticipate the pain and suffering I must endure.
I don't want to leave the comfort of this field.
I want to stand here and bask in the sun.
I stand tall and know that I can bear it.
My creator is in control and will be with me through it all.
He will make sure some of my seeds are planted so the cycle continues.
His wisdom ensures my future.
Here I stand...waiting.

A friend of mine brought this verse from Luke to my attention this week, and it struck such a chord in my heart. I looked up the verse. I looked for other people's interpretations of this verse. I looked at pictures of wheat and of the process of sifting wheat. It all inspired me to think a lot, write the poem from the perspective of the stalk of wheat, and REALLY take the words of Jesus into my mind and heart.

These words in Luke are the warnings of Jesus, preparing Peter, (and all of us, really) for the trials and tribulations that will inevitably occur in his life. How he explains about Satan demanding control of Peter's life is much like how Satan was given permission to work terror into the life of Job in the Old Testament. There were a few very comforting ideas to come out of these verses.

God is in control. Even though Satan is at work in our lives, shaking us, beating us, throwing difficulties at us, trying to separate us from our faith, he must ask permission. He asked to take things away from Job, as he was sure that when things were tough, Job would curse God. God allowed it. This is one of the toughest theological questions of history...WHY does God allow Satan to hurt us with his power? 

I do not claim to be learned enough to understand this difficult question or even try to answer it. My faith in God is strong enough to TRY to understand God's seek peace in my doubts. I believe that God knows our faith in Him is refined when we go through trials and suffering. If we did not have trials to bring us down, our flawed human hearts wouldn't feel the need for an all powerful Father God to have faith in. In my life journey, it has been in the difficult times that I sought out God the hardest and drew closer to Him. My faith was honed and refined when I needed Him the most.

Jesus' words to Peter also bring another comforting idea. Jesus said he has prayed for Peter, that his faith may not fail. Jesus prays for us! Jesus truly IS our friend as well as Savior! He supports us, loves us AND prays for us! He stands between our sinful selves and God so that all God sees when He looks at us is Jesus. Surely I can remain strong in my faith when I remember that Jesus is not just there, but He is battling for me and supporting me!

The last comforting idea I got by reading Luke 22:31-32 comes from the last line. Jesus told Peter when he turned again, (after his faith has been tested) he should strengthen his brothers. Could this be the most important thing that comes out of our trials? Jesus wants us to take lessons we learned during our hard times and love, support and strengthen others who are struggling. Pay it forward, right? 

My friend did that for me yesterday when she shared the "sifting verses" with me. She has been tested and sifted and learned lessons from it. She was sharing with me what she learned: that we need to remain faithful to God even when it is hard. We talked about how difficult it is to do that. When you are in the middle of hard times, it is so easy to get so wrapped up in the pain that you lose sight of Jesus. 

The thing we need to remember: even if we lose sight of Jesus for a time, He doesn't lose sight of us. He is there, praying for us. God IS in control, even when we can't see that at all.

I want to stand firm during the trials that I am facing. When I am struggling to hang on to that faith in God, I want to continue reaching toward the son and allow His light to nourish me and sustain me while I am weak. I want to push through those times and not run away from the problems. Then, when I have made it through, I can use that pain I experienced to reach out to others who might be going through their own hard time and support them. It's not an easy cycle to be in, but it's one that I WANT to be in. 

Wind and storm try to beat me down.
I reach for the Son.
Here I stand.

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