I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
I have had some things on my mind lately and as I have been pondering them from time to time, it seems that God is speaking some new things about old truths into my Spirit.
There are specific words and ideas moving around in this, namely: Consent; Sift; Repent; Overcome.
It began with the word “Consent.” In recent conversation with someone facing a downpour of family, finance and emotional, trauma, this person was lamenting that nothing ever changes in these situations and that the inevitable future was one of financial ruin, marriage breakup and a host of other things. The most recent crises were piled upon a host of other recent relationship sorrows. As I listened, I could hear the Spirit bringing to my mind “Consent.”
Another friend facing huge life crisis and potential life upheavals has been wrestling about in her mind with God, asking questions, facing that awful silence we sometimes face with Him and feeling that she is losing her faith in this process. Where is He? Why won’t He answer? Again, as she is speaking, the Spirit is whispering into my heart, “Consent.” A wise friend told her she wasn’t losing her “faith;” she was losing her “religion.” Amen.
So what does that mean then? I always seem to gravitate to Peter when I am faced with these things, and also to Job. Right now the world is in turmoil and the Church is also in a place of transition. Individual members of the body of Christ are feeling the foundations moving from under their feet and there is a sense of fear in this. I hear Jesus telling us that yes, this is happening, and that He told us it would which is why so often He repeated to His disciples (as God did to His prophets and leaders), “Fear not,” He is speaking this to us now. Peter was a brave man and he loved Jesus with everything that was in him to love. So, when Jesus said that He would be offered up as a sacrifice that night, Peter bravely defended him and vowed that he would never let that happen. Jesus, instead of telling Peter, “Thank you brother, I’m glad you have my back” said, “No Peter, you will actually be denying me in this process because you see, Satan has asked permission to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail, and when you return, you will be used as a strength to your brothers.” Can you imagine how Peter felt right at that moment? His brave desire to defend his Lord was turned into a rebuke and a warning.
Fast forward to 2015. I am hearing these words now I think. As we are being sifted within the body of Christ, I am asking many questions. “Lord, are we being sifted? Because it seems that the enemy has gained a whole lot of control and within the church, there are many teachings that don’t line up with what we have always been taught. There are many coming in as wolves in sheep’s clothing and as You told us in Jude, they would ‘come out from among us but not be of us.’ They would be spots in our love feasts. You warned us in Daniel 7 and in Revelation 12 that in these days, the enemy would go after Your saints and would ‘wear us down’ and overpower us. You exhorted us seven times in Revelation 2, 3 to be overcomers in the midst of the falling away of the church.
As in the recent conversations with the two mentioned above and others besides, I am sensing that just as Satan had been given permission to sift Peter like wheat, we will also be sifted like wheat. And just as Jesus told Peter that He was praying for him—that his faith would not fail—He is doing the same thing with us. Yes, He is allowing our “religion” to be sifted like wheat, because the only thing of value is our faith, and Jesus Christ will pray for us, that our faith will not fail. And that the end result He is after is that we will be encouragers to others who are facing these same things.
If he has permission, then is it time for warfare?
Or, is it time to consent? Not to Satan, but to Jesus, who has allowed it? And anyway, what is this sifting all about?
Sifting the wheat in the ancient Middle East was a process. It began with the gathering of the wheat and then the threshing of the wheat—breaking the hard outer hull of the wheat corn, and finally, taking the grain that was left after the threshing out to an elevated place and tossing the wheat corn and the hulls up into the air where the wind would carry away the chaff away while the good corn of wheat would fall to the ground to be used in the feeding of many.
I believe this is the process we are in. And thankfully so, because hard days are coming and Jesus wants us ready. He is not going to leave us lying around blowing leisurely in the balmy winds of the wheat field to be mowed down. He is not content to let us lie in heaps of stalks near the threshing floor to mold and rot. He is certainly not going to let us continue in our relationships with useless hulls of chaff. He is going to thresh us, in order to hammer out the hulls and to bring forth the solid edible wheat corn.
He is creating His last days overcomers.
And so, He is asking us to consent to the threshing. I am finding that this is different from what we call “surrender.” How many times we sing the hymn “I surrender all” only to walk out of the building completely unsurrendered. Consenting is telling God, “I am ready for You to go after everything in me that has been built on a false premise—my wrong definitions of You, my long held prejudices and judgments and critical spirits; my misuse of Your word, my cold love. My love for the world. All of it. I consent. And it is completely up to Him to determine what to thresh out. All we do is consent.
Consenting involves repentance but not the kind of repentance where we just agree that we have fallen short. It is the kind of deep, grieving over what we have allowed into our lives that have leaked in and built up strongholds around our hearts and minds and emotions. I am going to continue this thought in another blog as I attempt to unravel the mystery of sifting in my own life and in the lives of bewildered pilgrims along the way.