Useful Not Just Fruitful

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. And His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, to gather the wheat to His barn… (Luke 3:16-17)

I am a creature of habit. I like things to stay where I put them and routines to be, well…routine. It gives me an exhilaratingly false sense of control in an otherwise out of control existence. Change bothers me and I adapt at a begrudging snail’s pace. If evolution were true my picture would be front and center in the dictionary alongside eight track tapes, leisure suits, and pet rocks. For some reason I have convinced myself that everything is all right with me and if that’s so then the way I do things must be alright with God. Now I know that concept is far from true yet I clench my fists and hold on like a city under siege. If confession really is good for the soul, it would probably do you good to join me at the altar. We are legion, but God has a recipe for this faulty belief system. I call it God’s threshing floor.

The threshing floor is a metaphor for God’s workshop. Here the accumulation of life’s trash is removed by God to reveal the treasure He has sown in us. Like a grain farmer, God intends to get His investment back, plus interest. The threshing floor is where that fruitful crop (you and me) becomes a useful commodity. We are fruitful if Christ lives within us, but not all of us are useful to the kingdom in our current condition. A transformation must occur.

There are few things in creation more beautiful than a field of golden wheat at harvest time. It’s wonderful to look at, but worthless for human consumption. That wheat must take a journey to the threshing floor where it will be broken and crushed until the wheat grain is released. Often oxen were used to thresh the wheat or barley. Their sharp hooves pressed the wheat stalks against the stony surface and over time the grain was set free.

Perhaps you find yourself in a rut from time to time as I do. Ruts are nothing more than graves with the ends kicked out. God hates ruts and will often use His threshing floor to rescue us from that habit-filled grave. All of us have had those moments when we awaken to find our worship of, intimacy with, obedience to, or faithfulness in God a bit less than exciting and certainly not fulfilling. All of us have stalled at this address, and if you find yourself there right now, you may have a trip to the threshing floor in your future.

It occurs when we get comfortable. It is so easy to focus our attention on what people see (our exterior) rather than on the things God gazes into (our interior). When this happens, we resemble wheat far more than we care to admit. A sheaf (bundle) of wheat is mostly fluff with a small amount of grain. That description probably bothers you as much as it bothers me, but it’s true. When it comes to our faith walk with Jesus it is often more chaff than grain. God is out to change that.

Through times of testing, hardship, and trial, God threshes us. He never does it to destroy, only to bring the release of our destiny hidden deep within each of us. His desire is to liberate us from all that chaff to become living, breathing facsimiles of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. The threshing floor releases the Christ in us to live through us, but you and I must be broken before it will happen on a consistent basis.

The fruitful wheat of the field must go through a process of transformation before it becomes bread on the table. Bread is useful to hungry people. Like wheat, God’s desire is to transform all of us into living examples of the Bread of Life. For this to happen, we must all visit God’s threshing floor from time to time, so that we might become useful, not just fruitful.