John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
A winnowing fan is a fan that is used while winnowing to separate the chaff from the grain – the good stuff from the bad stuff. In the Gospel of Matthew, we are reminded that, one way or the other, God is going to “hit” us with fire. For the “good stuff” (the Wheat), the Lord will use the Holy Spirit and fire to Galvanize us and our Faith. For the “bad stuff” (the chaff), the Lord will use fire to burn them Eternally. So, it isn’t a question of whether or not the “Fire” is going to come, it is really a matter of where we “are” when it comes… After He clears His “threshing floor”, will we be “in the Barn” or left outside of “the Barn” forever? It’s quite simple to be the “Wheat”, but, farming is not an easy vocation. Farmers get-up early in the morning and work very late into the evening. They rely on the Lord’s Hands to bring the rain, sun, seeds, etc. Good farmers live in a constant state of Serenity while being Faithful to the Lord and to their work – Trusting that God will bring the Blessings. Farming is a “good hard”; just like being Faithful is a “Good hard”. I heard it said once in the movie, “Facing the Giants”, that there were two farmers who desperately needed the rain, but only one of them went out and seeded his fields. The story ends with the question, “Who do you think Trusted the Lord more?” The answer is the farmer who planted the seeds and the morale of the story is that the Lord is not through with us yet either, so we need to “plant our fields” and Trust Him to bring the “Rain” in His time. And, like they say, let’s do our best to “leave it all on the field”.