I have been in a holding pattern on this blog, it seems. I originally started writing it as a means of sharing what I am learning in my delving into the Word of God. That does not mean I have answers for anyone else by any stretch, but if something I have learned makes sense to someone else, so much the better. AND I have so benefited from what others learn in their study time that I just wanted to share what God is doing in my life and what I am learning as well.
I have been in a place of sifting for the past two years. The sifter has been my job. The Bible talks about sifting in more than one place, but the experience I have been in is referenced in Luke 22: 31-32. 31 “Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
I have been in places of sifting off and on in my journey with God for over 3 decades. The experience is painful, and I do not pretend to understand why it is necessary in the sense that maybe for me God determines it necessary to sift me repeatedly when he may not one of his other children. Maybe I’m just a slow learner. That is very possible, but what I am seeing now, as I look back a ways down the path from which I have come, is a process taking shape.
You see in the scripture where Jesus is talking to Simon Peter, he tells him that Satan is wanting to sift; is asking to be allowed to sift, and he is given permission. That tells me a lot. For one thing, God does not do bad things to his children, but he allows it. Is that semantics?
Well, yeah, but it is important. I believe, in my finite little human mind, that it is all about adding dimension to us, and more specifically, to our faith. After a lifetime of being in relationship with God, I have learned a few things about him and how he handles me. I am exceedingly stubborn and self-sufficient, prone to hubris. Those are not admirable traits in the walk with God. I have been learning the hard way for a lifetime that I MUST rely on God, and I cannot attempt to procure my ending myself.
Because I tend to not “get it,” I believe God has allowed Satan to sift me, because even though God is working on these undesirable traits, he knows I can take it. He knows I have been conditioned enough to handle the obstacle course, even though I’m gonna complain and groan my way through it.
So, I have been in a job that challenges my most fundamental character trait, my sense of justice. What Satan has done, since he has also known me my whole life, was to make sure I felt helpless, and at every turn I was thwarted, betrayed, and impotent to stop what I was seeing, because he knows that combo triggers my animalistic nature. I am no flight person. It’s fight all the way, baby. (Thank You Jesus, You gave me a husband who is a tough guy with a gentle nature! He is wise!) But he also knows, I have an illness that gets triggered in such fights. He also knows if he goads me to take it all on on my own…I will.
I am happy to say that I began calling out to God from the beginning. I struggled with my fundamental nature and my wanting to step out on my own and take things into my own hands, which, I confess, I did. A lot. But I also stepped back and asked for guidance. I asked for help too. Maybe not enough. And I know for sure that I did not exhibit God’s grace at all near the end of the the two years. I began falling apart mentally, as Satan knew I would because of the nature of the illness that impacts my life, but I did not fail to turn to God. I cried out over and over for his rescue.
Yeshua, my rescuer.
What I have been learning VERY slowly is that God is not interested in me winning the human race. All the things that people hold up as successful, God is not interested in cultivating in his warriors. He is not interested in how many church services I attend or how many messages I take in from famous speakers. He does not care how much spiritual jargon I can spew or how many “encounters” I can say I have had with him if it does not change me to be more reliant on him.
I’m gonna tell you right now, this was ugly. I have been praying since the first month I started my job to be released. I committed to two years, and he has held me to it, to the day. But he is faithful, and even though I made a mess of so many things in trying to get away and stop the wheat threshing I have been experiencing, he has been faithful in releasing me.
Satan has been right there with me as well, even sending someone along to tell me what a sinner I have been. The truth is that I have sinned. It’s really not about my sinning. I’m human. It happens. He knows better than anyone that if he wants perfection, he better not send me. But, my heart is good, and when he told me to love the people I worked for, he knew I would do it.
He knew I would screw up as well, which is why he provided Romans 8:28: “28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” He did it so that I would know that my sin in the midst of serving, in a place I never would have chosen for myself but that I went to in obedience, he would erase and work out all of it in spite of my blunders and mishandling; because my heart longs for him and I confess what I break.
One day I woke up and asked as I had every day, “Is it done? Is it over? Can I leave?” One day he said, “Do it,” and so I did.
I will never know if there was another reason, really. I know He told me to go, cleared the path so specifically that there was no misunderstanding. I was an intellectual stepping into a world political agendas absent of common sense. The people I worked with were beautiful and many from families I have known my whole life. I will never know if there was a purpose outside the sifting I encountered. The facility will close back over itself, absorbing my empty presence as though I was never there. But Oh Man, did it grow me. I learned, really learned how to swing a sword of truth in a sea of deceit.
Maybe that is what I was sent to do. I didn’t do it well. Bad form rather too often, but there were specific moments when God told me very directly to speak to those who seem to be rather full of their own significance, not considering those they are to be leading, and I did. I will never know what God will do with that. It’s really none of my business.
I gave my resignation when God impressed upon me to do so, and interestingly enough, it was before I had another job. So I step from one stone of faith onto another I can’t see. I have no idea what is round the corner, but I can tell you that, sin and all, I passed the sifting. Satan did not take me out. Oh, he pulled out all the stops, but in the midst of the fog I fell back on the foundation that was reinforced by God’s direction that I memorize the 40 verses of Hebrews 11.
I choose to be sure of what I hope for and I choose to be certain of what I cannot see.
I am sure that God is faithful to finish what he started in me (Phil 1:6)
I am certain he has a plan for a hope and a future just for me (Jer 29:1)