THE GREAT WORK OF WINNOWING

In my journey since needing to close Over Easy, and moving to Florida, I have taken jobs that I see as “transitional” while I keep my feelers out for something that I would want to do for the long term. In this I am learning to be grateful and just walk through the doors God has opened for me. Each workday I am called to practice Colossians 3:23-24 which says “WHATEVER you do, work at it with all your heart, not for human masters but for the Lord, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”


I currently work as a surveyor (not the prestigious type George Washington did). In my case I walk around a home improvement store with a clipboard and ask survey questions to help develop sales leads for a water softening service for homeowners.

This is not exactly “selling ice to Eskimos” as the water quality in Florida isn’t so great. It ranks 49th out of 50 states! In other words, this is an essential product Floridians need people often don’t want bombarded by sales calls so they decline taking the survey. So this job can be humbling at times when I receive a lot of “I’m not interested” responses. One time an elderly man looked at me, annoyed waving the back of his hand near my face and snarled, “Go away!”


During these low points I often ask myself, “Is it really necessary to have to experience so many rejections in response to a simple 30 second survey?” This reminds me of Jesus telling fishermen Peter and Andrew that they were going to in the future be “sent out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19) I know that these commercial fishermen working on the Sea of Galilee were net casting fishermen (vs. the poll casting kind). Just like my current surveying job it was all “a numbers game” where a winnowing process had to take place to catch the small percentage of fish that they would eventually be able to sell at the market.


They took their boats out into the Sea of Galilee and threw out their net as wide as possible. Many fish escaped the net. Out of the many casts a minority of those fish got caught into their nets. Then as they brought their net full of various kinds of fish ashore. They then sat down and looked at what they had caught realizing they needed to discard many of the fish. They threw out fish for various reasons such as wrong size, species or bruises and disease.

Jesus explains this process like this: “The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into a blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:47-50)


So the kingdom of God works like commercial fishing and many of today’s businesses, such as the one I currently work for. What does this winnowing process have to do with “finishing strong?” A lot. God’s work is not about picking and choosing who we are going to “fish for”. It is about casting the invitation net wide recognizing the majority of people are going to say “no.” Some will escape the net, while others will be gathered in the net and need to be tossed out later as “bad fish.” But if we aren’t faithful and obedient to follow His process to cast the wide net to start with or there will be no way of eventually catching the “good fish”.


It isn’t our responsibility to “prejudge” the good from the bad so we don’t have to feel the discomfort of rejection. Rejection of the invitation by the majority of “fish” is inevitable. Very interestingly, when I have prejudged people as unlikely to respond to my survey the numbers of filled out surveys go way down.


The God venture of fishing for people is about the “invitation” to the many and the eventual “acceptance” of a few. Jesus said it this way, “Many are called but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14) This is the “great work of winnowing” that inevitably must take place to honor the free will of those made in God’s image to either accept or reject God’s merciful offer.


Rejections are necessary to reach those precious fish who WILL accept the invitation and enjoy His Kingdom with Him. We need to get in the habit each day of extending the invitation to those in our “pond” in some way to move closer towards Christ. We should not take personally their response if it is a “not interested” or worse, like “go away!’ Sometimes it is as simple as asking about someone’s story and showing the compassion of Christ and letting them know that we will pray for them in a specific way.


When we join the “great work of winnowing, “we will be joyfully walking that narrow road with our Lord that leads to FINISHING STRONG!


Written by Jamie Bohnett. Contact the Author: jamiebohnett@gmail.com

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