think that i have adequately explained that this has been a difficult month for me emotionally and spiritually. not to mention my physical kidney stone unto death illness... i have literally felt sifted. perhaps some chaff has fallen off (let’s hope!). but sifting isn’t fun. but as beth moore says, “God will allow satan to sift you if there are some things in your life that need to go”.
so one of my favorite Bible sections this month was this little treasure in luke 22:31-32 where Jesus is talking to simon peter...
"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 brothers."
IF i had written this passage this is how it would read...
“simon, simon (all in lower case, of course), behold, satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, AND I TOLD HIM HELL TO THE NO. I told him to go and find somebody who wasn’t my disciple to sift like wheat and i also told him that i was going to bless you incredibly and make you the richest man ever so har-de-har-har.”
not sure of the accuracy of Jesus saying “hell to the no” but it would have been fun to say that to satan. i try to say it to satan at least once a day.
which is why God didn’t let me write any of the Bible.
also He didn’t let me write the ending to this story because of something about His ways being higher than my ways and His thoughts higher than my thoughts. and His stories being perfect just the way He is writing them.
my favorite part of those verses isn’t that Jesus says that He is going to stop satan from sifting peter like wheat. it is kind of implied that Jesus gave the man with the pitchfork a little go ahead three spaces with your bad self card on this sifting. BUT Jesus has prayed for peter that his faith wouldn’t fail. and then Jesus says what might be my favorite word in the Bible right now. He says...
WHEN you have turned back. your faith won’t fail, but it will falter is the implication here. there will be a time of turning back. and there is an assignment for that time... strengthen your brothers. tell your story.
and i looked up on the lifeway strong’s concordance website the greek word for “sift” which is siniazo and it means...
1) to sift, shake in a sieve
- by inward agitation to try one's faith to the verge of overthrow
to the verge of overthrow. the verge. the edge. borderline. boundary. brink. threshold. extremity. limit. margin. fringe. ALMOST overthrown.
but almost is almost as good of a word as WHEN.
and the word “turned” in the greek means to turn to the worship of the TRUE God, to turn to the love and obedience of God, to turn to love wisdom and righteousness. i needed to read that definition today. i need to know what a turn looks like. i need to rejoice that God allows, encourages, calls us to turn. i need to wait in hopeful expectation for a turn. because Jesus has already prayed for it. my prayers echo His. there is no better prayer in the world than one that echoes Jesus’ own prayer.
i think sometimes we see someone’s sifting, someone’s turning away from God as only a negative. and certainly there are consequences to sin. terrible consequences. but Jesus saw this also as an essential step in peter’s life. a stepping stone to the kind of faith peter would need in the future. a light that would shine brighter for others to light their way. God never wastes a painful experience. He is into recycling. restoring. redeeming. reclaiming.
Jesus prays for us and then He says these words, “WHEN you have turned back”. which are much more beautiful words than the ones i would have written. He always writes a better story that i could ever ask or imagine.