Some years ago I heard an allegory which I have never forgotten

(George Everard, "The Home of Bethany" 1873)

"He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation." Psalm 107:7

Some years ago I heard an allegory which I have never forgotten. It often comes back to me when I think of the way in which the Lord leads His people.

The fable runs that a few ears of wheat were growing in the corner of a field, and it was promised to this wheat that it would one day be brought before the Queen. But by-and-by the mower came with his sharp scythe and cut the wheat, and feeling the sharpness of the scythe, it said, "I shall never stand before the Queen!" Presently it was laid in the wagon, and pressed and borne down by the other sheaves, and again arose the cry of distress and despair. But, more than this, it was laid on the threshing-floor, and the heavy flail came down upon it. It was taken to the mill, and cut and cut and cut; then it was kneaded into bread; and at last it was placed in the hot burning oven. Again and again was heard the cry of utter, hopeless despair. But at length the promise was fulfilled, and the bread was placed on the Queen's table!

There is a great spiritual truth beneath the fable. Christians are God's wheat, sprung from the incorruptible seed of His Word, and from the precious seed of the crucified, buried body of our Lord — and He purposes that one day they shall stand before Him! But there needs much preparation.

There comes the sharp scythe of bereavement — the loss of child or parent or spouse.

There comes the oppressive burden of care.

There comes the severe tribulation (the very word signifies threshing), seasons of adversity and disappointment.

There comes the mill, the trial that utterly breaks us down, and fills the whole spirit with distress.

There comes the hot furnace of agonizing pain or fear.

All these are doing their appointed work, stirring up faith and prayer, humbling to the very dust — and yet lifting up the Christian, by leading him nearer to God, and enabling him at length to say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted!"