Read: Proverbs 14:4
Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,
but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.
“A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind.” If Garfield said it, it has to be true, right?
Of course, most of us neat and orderly Type A personalities would say to that one, “put the cat back in the bag.” But, reluctantly and grudgingly, I have to admit that there is a truth hidden in Garfield’s reasoning. Maybe he’d just read Proverbs 14:4—my paraphrase,
“When the bull is not in the barn, it stays nice ‘n’ tidy, but if you want a cash crop, you’ve got to put up with a stinky stall.”
Yeah, Garfield, life gets messy!
As much as some of us would like to control everything that goes on in and around our lives, keeping things as neat, orderly and sterile as an operating room, we can’t. Sometimes things happen beyond our control.
Have you noticed that life spilling out beyond the boundaries seems to be the rule rather than the exception?
So what is Solomon saying? Forget about order? Don’t sweat staying within the borders? Don’t worry about the details? I don’t think so. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, was no doubt a very orderly, strategic person. Just look at the details of the Temple that he designed and built. It was grand beyond description. Solomon was a man of great planning and execution.
But he also had come to understand that surprises and messes and interruptions were not only to be expected in life, they often became life’s little serendipities. The unexpected pleasures and great discoveries in life are often unplanned, even when guarding our lives so tightly trying to prevent them. But, “it” happens!
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul would say it this way: “For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) So instead of ruthlessly trying to eliminate the unexpected and strategically avoiding the out-of bounds in our lives, Solomon says we should embrace them as necessary to a fruitful, joyful life.
A consistently clean room means the child has gone away to college.
A marriage without heartache means that a husband and wife no longer share the same bathroom.
A ministry that doesn’t have to clean up the after-effects of sin means a church without people.
A life without relational disappointment means love never ventured.
A perfect world means you’ve lived in the safety of suburbia so long that you’ve forgotten the opportunities God has for you to change a lost and hurting world.
Life gets messy! So why not jump in with both feet and enjoy the mess. Get your mess on! Get involved. Get your hands dirty. Be useful. It won’t hurt you! In fact, you might find an unanticipated dimension of life that leads to incredible fulfillment.
“Just remember what God did with a whole lot of chaos.”
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
Make a list of five things that are irritating you at the moment. Now, beside each one, write a sentence prayer expressing gratitude to God for how he is going to use these “messes” to bring about good in your life.