Scroll down to April 9 to catch the beginning of the series.
Golden wheat stretched into the Kansas horizon. Wind rippled through the stalks, like waves on the open sea. The field beckoned to me like a field of poppies. I wanted to stop my truck and get lost in that sea of gold, but I drove on. The Rockies called me forward. There was purpose in my journey. Although I didn’t acknowledge it at the time, I was trying to run away from a world of hurt, trying to go to a place where I could find myself and forget myself. Little did I know that the place I sought would hold no answers, but that the One who had allowed brokenness to enter my life did.
The mountains did not give me answers, but I know now that God gives us mountains in life to climb to bring us closer to Him, and to make us more like His Son. He can use the trials, heartaches and mistakes we make to craft us into vessels He can use.
Difficulties (either ones we can’t control or ones we bring on ourselves), can become tools in God’s hand to refine our spiritual character and develop our trust in Him, to change things about us that aren’t in alignment with the pattern Jesus has set for us, craft empathy within us so that we can sincerely comfort others, and through it all, give us opportunities to glorify Him. The latter one is not because He needs the glory, although He deserves it, but so others can see the light of His truth and existence in our changed lives or in our belief, held steadfast despite life trauma and difficulty.
In Matthew, Chapter 13:24-30 Jesus tells the Parable of the Tares (weeds). He explains in verses 36-43 that the parable speaks about God’s coming judgement. In that instance, wheat symbolized true believers, and tares were symbolic of those who were counterfeit.
Jesus was a master at using tangible, familiar things to help people relate to the abstract spiritual concepts He taught.
While researching material for the Sifted and Cherished series, I was drawn to study tares and uncovered another spiritual analogy that seems applicable to the life of believers.
In the Holy land, tares refers to a weed that is called wild wheat. The plant and seed heads look like cultured wheat, but the seeds are black. They have a bitter taste, and, if eaten can cause dizziness, vomiting and if consumed in quantity, can become a sleep-inducing poison.
Women took the winnowed grain and painstakingly removed the tares by hand. If the tares were left in the grain and ground into flour, the women knew that the bread they made from it would poison those they loved.
Although farmers of the day tried diligently to remove the tares from their fields, it proved nearly impossible, because the tares were hardy and prolific.
God painstakingly uses trials to remove the tares from within us, where their hardy roots anchor deeply into our sinful nature. This is something only His knowing hand can do; and He does it because He loves us too much to leave us the way we are. He knows the tares of our flesh can strip joy from life, cause anxiety over things we can’t control, bring sickness to relationships, cause damage to His character, (because we represent Him on this earth), and ultimately, remove us from the blessings He wants to bestow on us. Salvation, not earned, but given, can never be taken away, but a life lived in the flesh of human desire, willfullness, self-reliance or weakness of faith, keeps us away from God’s peace, blessing, and perfect will for our lives.
The miles I climbed in the Colorado Rockies years ago and the beauty I saw impacted me greatly, but nowhere near the way God has impacted me in the life I have traveled since then. I had so much to learn. In hindsight, I realize my greatest spiritual development came at the expense of hurt, tears and trouble. I had many tares God needed to remove and I know there are more He will yet search out. He knew exactly which trial or consequence I needed to go through to handpick a specific tare from my character or spirit. Some tares, I hate to say, He had to pick out more than once.
My prayer is that now I will be more willing and open to His hand, quicker to trust Him, more able to find peace in Him, more likely to be teachable, more likely to ask “what can I learn, Lord or what do I need to change?”
As you approach this new year, I pray that you too will be willing to open your heart to God’s discerning eye and master-hand. He sees all, anyway; He desires us to be willing. Let’s ask Him to remove the tares that prevent us from knowing Him deeply, steal our joy, retard our spiritual growth or poison us into a spiritual sleep. All of those move us away from God’s blessing, perfect will and purpose for our lives.
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Romans 8:28-29 (NIV)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn of many brothers.”