Only recently, I caught myself threshing wheat in a wine-press. “How did it happen?“, you might ask. I wandered off in my thoughts extrapolating. I got myself unnecessarily worked up and gradually slipped away from a primary task I was meant to be doing. Instead, I picked up another task which was in everything not related to my vocation nor skill. Each time I, with enthusiasm, picked up this particular task, I had that ‘this is not quite right‘ feeling. For a while, I did not quite understand what was going on. So, I took multiple steps back and examined myself (2 Cor 13:5). One question I asked was, “Father, what do you want me to do at this point in time seeing I am cumbered with a myriad of thoughts?” I heard the answer so clearly (Isaiah 30:21). “Go back to the primary task and I will lead you on from there.” To accompany this message was peace that passed my understanding. But why had not I asked the question earlier?
Do you wonder what the phrase ‘threshing wheat in a wine-press’ has got to do with this? I feel there is a slight similarity between what happened to me and Gideon (Judges 6). During his era, his tribe was under the oppression of the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern people. They invaded the Israelites and took away their food and livestock. The Israelites lived in terror. For fear being seen, Gideon went into a wine-press to thresh the wheat for the family’s dinner. Perhaps that was not the first time.
For purpose of clarity, a wine-press, according to Wikipedia, is a device used to extract juice from crushed grapes during wine making. A press exerts controlled pressure in order to free the juice from the grapes. The pressure must be controlled in order to avoid crushing the seeds and releasing a great deal of undesirable tannins into the wine. A press could easily fit in a small space.
On the other hand, wheat was usually laid out on a special piece of ground prepared for just that purpose. The ground was very hard and usually circular in shape. The threshing floors were located on top of hills where there would be more wind. The grain would be poured out on the ground and oxen pulling a threshing sled would walk over the grain. It consisted of three stone rollers embedded with pieces of iron that would break and cut the grain. After this process, which broke the hard shell around the kernel, men would take winnowing fans and toss the grain into the air. The lighter husk would be blown away by the wind, while the heavier grain would fall back to the earth.
Think about it. How can one successfully thresh wheat in a wine-press? Likewise how can one successfully make wine on a threshing floor?
Need I state the obvious? This is not quite right. I imagine the end-result of Gideon’s task was a rough mixture of wheat and chaff.
While he was at the wine-press, an angel of the Lord appeared and told him what his primary vocation was, a warrior. He was to victoriously lead the Israelites to war. There was no place for wasting time and he had to commence the task asap starting from his Father’s house. Gideon had always lived close to his Father but his role there was not obvious to him. Instead, Gideon was filled with these thoughts: “But if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all His wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” A lot of went through his mind which beclouded his thinking. Why had not Gideon unburden himself to Lord earlier?
‘Threshing wheat in a wine-press or making wine on a threshing floor’ could also connote a state of ’tilting at windmills’, ‘having misplaced priorities’, ‘chasing shadows’, ‘busy doing nothing’, ‘going round circles’, ‘confusion’. Once this is recognised, take a step back and ask the simple question, “Father, what do you want me to do at this point in time seeing I am cumbered with a myriad of thoughts?“