Sifted wheat

When I was in high school I worked at a grain elevator in Oxford, KS. This is where wheat is collected after being harvested from regional farms. It is stored and then loaded onto railway cars for transportation to processing facilities. My job was to weigh and sample each truck load of wheat when it was delivered. The truck arrived from the field and pulled onto the scale where it was weighed. At this time I’d collect a sample of the wheat and then weigh a specified volume of this sample. This measurement was used to determine the amount of foreign material. You see, a field of wheat is not just wheat. The wheat is covered by chaff that must be removed. There are also weeds, some disguised to look much like wheat.

I’m not so different than the wheat. I’ve got a covering to strip away and weeds, too. Content that does not belong. Pride. Envy. Impatience. Lust. Important steps in harvesting wheat are threshing and winnowing. In threshing, the inedible chaff is loosened from the edible grain. The chaff is then separated from the wheat during winnowing. Historically, threshing was completed by spreading the wheat on the ground and beating it with a flail. The winnowing was completed by throwing the wheat in the air where the lighter chaff was blown away in even a moderate wind. Jesus used this sifting metaphor when warning Peter about his denial on the night He was betrayed. Jesus said:

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of 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)

All too often I feel like there is so much sifting to be done in my life. My foreign material percentage is way too high. However, when thinking about this passage recently, something very important occurred to me. It sounds obvious…

When sifting wheat, there is chaff to be removed, but there is also wheat! The wheat is already there. There would be no point in sifting otherwise.

Take heart friend, God sees you as valuable, golden wheat. The chaff just drifts away in a gentle breeze as you continue in your obedient walk with your loving Father.

About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
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