I’ve been thinking about sifting lately. You know that part of the story where Jesus tells Peter, “Satan has asked to sift you.”(Luke 22:31) It, along with a conversation I had at my awesome women’s bible study, got me to thinking. That little comment from Jesus always freaked me out a little. I mean, it obviously implied that not only had Satan asked but that he had been given permission. The same thing happened with Job.(Job 1-all the rest of it) Satan says, “Let me do some crap to these ‘followers’ of yours” and God says, “Go for it.” What?!? I’m not totally sure I’m comfortable with that. Except that, it’s God, and I know that he never does anything without the holiest of purposes and the utmost desire for our good and I get that…I really do.
So, one of the ladies in our bible study, in tears because of all the pain she's seen lately at the hands of what appears to be Satan’s schemes, says, “The scary thing is…who’s next?” My immediate reaction was fear. Who IS next? Who is Satan gonna ask to sift? Who is God gonna give Satan permission to sift? Then another feeling came. I knew this feeling was more in line with the Holy Spirit in me because it had nothing to do with fear. The bible says that we are not given a spirit of fear, right? This felt more like a challenge. And so I said, before my fear could get the best of me, “Who knows…maybe you, maybe someone else. I hope it’s me.” I HOPE IT’S ME! Where did that come from?!? At the time I knew, in part, it was because it occurred to me that this sifting is for our own good. It doesn’t mean that we, as people, are sifted out of God’s hands. No way! It means that the impurities are sifted out of us, leaving more room for God to fill us with his Spirit. It is a loving and good thing for our Lord to do.
Sifting also doesn't mean that we have to fall to the temptation of sin. See, ultimately Satan’s goal is for us to let go of our faith. But all he can really do is tempt us to let go. He’s pretty good at it frankly. But he can’t pry it from our grasp without us agreeing to loosen our grip. So, I know that this sifting is also an opportunity for me to strengthen my grip. I also know that God won’t allow it unless he thinks it would deeply benefit me. Still, I HOPE IT’S ME! That’s a little crazy, right? Probably, but I desperately want to be brave enough to say, “Bring it on.” That’s why I had to say it out loud in that moment, because I don’t generally feel that way. But, underneath my desire for comfort and security and safety and my even more fervent wish for all of these things for those I hold dear, my heart has begun to beat with a reckless faith. It’s ferocity is sometimes inconvenient and it’s wildness makes me uneasy. But, it also feels right and good and strangely necessary. So, in my braver moments I pray for sifting. And I pray for the courage and the faith to remain true to what I know to be the only Truth, my only Saving Grace, my only Hope, my Soon Coming King. Holy God.