In the context of military tactics, chaff is
“a radar countermeasure in which aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium, metallized glass fibre or plastic, which either appears as a cluster of primary targets on radar screens or swamps the screen with multiple returns.” (Wikipedia)
Dating back to WW2, chaff has been used as a distraction for incoming enemy fire. It is used to confuse radar and to divert weapons from their target. It is expendable and cheap and effective.
In Psalm 35, chaff is used to describe unworthiness:
“Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the Lord chase them.” Psalm 35:5
In reference to Jesus, John the Baptist says:
“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:12
Other than a distraction, chaff is worthless.
One of men that graciously provides counsel to me made an observation the other day: “you seem scattered” (like the chaff of Psalm 35, I suppose). His observation points out a real issue: scattered priorities and thoughts can be as distracting and worthless as chaff. In these moments, I can lose focus of my primary goal: God.
I agree, and I confess: I have allowed thoughts and concerns of the material world to become distractions recently. I find this troubling on several counts but two especially stand out:
- I didn’t realize I had become so distracted, or scattered.
- I hadn’t connected my attention on the distractions to recent diminishing peace.
I’ve said it before: I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. I can be frustratingly dense, and become intensely focused on what is in front of me – almost myopic. Which is a double-edged sword.
This is precisely why I need faithful men to provide good counsel.
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14
“Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” Proverbs 19:20
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful.” 1 Peter 5:6-8