Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Roasted Grain

Clearly, there is a way this is all supposed to work. If you spend so much of your time trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, gathering the wheat carefully and knowing that a few good heads will no doubt fall into the chaff, considering mindfully the type of fire you want to fuel with the chaff, then there has to be a method to the madness. There has to be a purpose to it all. And there is.

The fire you start with the chaff roasts the grain.

Ideally, anyway.

Ideally, you take the wheat that you've painstakingly collected, the message you've agonized over, the words you want to say to the people to feed them. You take this wheat, and you lay it out before the people, showing them what it is that good grain looks like, offering them something life-giving, something nourishing. While the grain is laid out, you start kindling a bit of the chaff, one of those things that didn't quite fit with the heart of the message but was good nonetheless. And you light the fire in the audience, keeping in mind the different kinds of fires discussed in yesterday's post.

As the fire starts to burn, the grain starts to roast. This does a couple of things. First, it makes the grain even more enticing for the people for whom you've threshed it. Nobody really does anything with raw grain. There's not much you can do with it. It doesn't taste very good. But roasted grain...roasted grain is a real treat. It's healthy; it's nourishing; it's delicious. When you start roasting the grain, you've got something. 

It's like when you are trying to teach someone about compassion. You gather all these teachings about compassion, all these things God would want someone to know. And it's nice. But until you start bringing in some other elements - stories, perhaps, of what real compassion looks like, opportunities to practice compassion, challenges to be compassionate to those you might overlook, whatever - there's not a lot for the people to do with the grain. You start to bring in this other stuff, this chaff that could never be the heart of the message but is essential nonetheless, and that grain starts to look better and better. People start to hear their stomachs grumbling. They start to feel their hunger. Roasted grain does that to a person.

The other thing that roasted grain does is to create an aroma pleasing to the Lord. Grain is great, but raw grain kind of smells like harvest. It smells like work. It smells like dust and pollen and weeds and sweat. It smells stagnant. God knows this grain is in the dead space of transition. It's no longer living, no longer growing, no longer connected to the earth, but it's not yet useful or meaningful. At threshing, grain When it's roasted, it becomes something more. And God smells that. Like fresh bread baking in the oven, God smells the grain roasting. It's enticing. It's lovely. It's beautiful. And it's pleasing.

If you're someone who speaks for God, in any capacity, you're going to run into these things. You're going to come to the point where you realize that one of the great responsibilities of being a messenger of God is learning to thresh well. It's learning to figure out what is wheat and what is chaff and being able to separate the two. It's being able to make the tough decisions and let some good grain fall to the ground because it's too attached to the chaff; it would ruin the taste of your message if you let it stay. It's figuring out how to use chaff to burn the right kind of fire and how to control the burn. And it's learning the art of roasting grain, making every message an offering both to God and to His people. It's not a task to be taken lightly. It's hard work. 

But it's worth it.

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