A wonderful little kernel of truth lies neatly tucked among the shelves of God’s library of Wisdom. Proverbs 14:4. Listen to this powerful insight,
“Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox.” On the surface that little gem seems to just state the obvious. Everyone knows that a barn without a cow is a clean place. And any rancher worth his salt would tell you that having a cow is better than not having a cow. So what’s the big deal?
Take a second and listen beyond the obvious. Hear the principle. Ryrie sums it up this way: “There is no milk without some manure. Some disturbance is the price of growth and accomplishment.” The point is, if you want the milk, you have to put up with the manure. It’s true of cows and barns, of families and children, of business and customers, and even churches.
I try to remember that sometimes when the boys sweep through and wreck the place. I’m not building a shrine, I’m building sons. And they mess up. I do too.
When the boys were young, a friend asked one day, “How does Amy decorate?” I said, “We have four sons. We don’t decorate, we survive.” Everything in our house is broken. I take that back, there is one item still left, a lladro ceramic figure of a girl with a cat. Amy’s father gave it to her and she treasures it. So we protect it at all costs. The other day one of the boys accidentally bounced a ball into it and it looked like a scene out of Matrix as bodies flew through the air in slow motion to catch it before it hit the ground.
Amy. Mother of four boys. She takes it in stride. She knows one day the cows will leave this barn and we won’t have the mess any more. Amy will finally decorate with unbroken lamps and things. And the chaos will subside. But we’ll sure miss the sweet milk that went with it.
I try to remember that every time things pile up. Without the ox the barn is clean. But man, what a benefit you get from an ox. Without people our worlds would be neat and tidy, but who would want to live there. Try to remember that the next time you step into a mess.