I may not choose to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but much of that time is spent baking. I love sweets, especially homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I know how to read a recipe, and I know the basics of baking, but I tend to be impatient, wanting to cut corners whenever possible. For instance, I know you’re supposed to sift the flour, letting it fall in little puffs of white softness that pile up in the center and slope down on the sides, then level it with the back of a butter knife for a perfect cup of flour. I know that it’s supposed to make the finished product lighter, fluffier – and it’s the only way to guarantee perfect proportions. But years ago I finally threw away my sifter, tired of it getting in the way when I tried to close my over-cluttered kitchen drawer. Why? Because I never used it. I discovered that if I scoop the flour into a measuring cup and run a knife through it to kind of loosen it up — fluff it up a little — it will still work. I may not win baking contests, and occasionally things don’t turn out as well as I hoped, but it works OK. In my harried mind, sifting seems like an extra, unnecessary step. If I skip it, I can finish faster and make less of a mess.
God, the master chef and Creator of all, never skips the important steps. He sifts our hearts. He filters out the lumps and impurities. He understands the difference between pretty good and perfect. He doesn’t want to take a chance that we’ll fall flat, that something will end up in the finished product that doesn’t belong there. And the mess? We may worry that something important will get thrown out or that the mess will be too big to clean up. But He knows that what is lost along the way is never as good as what remains, so He doesn’t let that get in the way. It’s just part of the process. And because of it, after God sifts our hearts and our lives, we end up with a certain lightness of spirit, a delicate but consistent texture, and maybe even a little taste of heaven.