A young boy with reins in hand, perhaps ten or eleven, sits atop the next load of gathered wheat shocks. At the direction of his father he encourages the team of horses to pull the wagon into position. From his high perch he can see all that is about to happen. Two giant machines stand in the field. One breaths fire and belches smoke and steam. A long wide belt runs from the first machine to the second one. With a wave of his arm an older man, the young boy’s grandpa, commands a third man on the steam engine. This third man pulls a lever. Wheels begin to spin, the mighty engine begins to wheeze and chug. The belt begins to move causing the second machine to rumble and vibrate as its multiple parts begin to move. Once grandpa is satisfied that all is working and at speed he signals two men which have climbed onto the wagon. They begin placing the shocks of wheat, head first, into a conveyor. The wheat enters the threshing machine where it is beaten, cleaned, and separated. The machine blows the dust and chaff out of one exit to be burned, the golden stems which will later become bales of straw fly out of another exit, and the kernels of wheat drop into bags at a third exit. What can’t be seen from the outside is that some of the wheat, the hard headed ones that refused to release their kernels, falls to a threshing floor and are brought back around for a second and, if needed, a third try.
The basics of threshing wheat have not changed in thousands of years. While a combine is used today and steam engines powered threshing machines in years past, the process is ultimately the same as in Biblical times. Before dawn of mechanization wheat was brought to a threshing floor. It was broken by the hooves of animals and the sledge they pulled. The results were then tossed into the air with a winnowing fork. The chaff, straw, and wheat being separated by the breeze. Using this illustration John the Baptist warned, ““His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”” (Matthew 3:12, NASB95) While there is an end times truth to this verse there is also an “in our lives” truth. In short, the walk God takes us on leads us to holiness and fruitfulness which requires a removal of chaff.
God will use many things to bring forth the fruit He is growing in our lives. Trials, struggles, and conflicts force us to give up the chaff of self; separating us from the sins, the selfish habits, and the blind areas of our lives. The conviction of the Holy Spirit leads us to the confession of sin, repentance, and forgiveness. Those are times of threshing. The Holy Spirit then blows the chaff out of our lives; empowering us to walk away from the “sin that so easily entangles us.” Those are times of winnowing. God continues to do this in our lives until the threshing floor is cleared. Or, thinking about the threshing machine, until all of our hard-headed kernels have been re-threshed and they too release their fruit and the chaff is blown away. Do you always seem to encounter the same stress point, fall into the same sin, or seem to be stuck in the mud instead of moving forward? Maybe God is trying to crack open a stubborn kernel in your life, re-threshing something in your life until the fruit is removed and the chaff blown away and burnt.
My thanks to Curt Albrecht who shared the kernel of this article during a time of encouragement and prayer.