Perhaps it’s happened to you. In fact, I’m sure it has. You’re driving down the interstate and right between the lanes there’s an egg crate, then a box and then something even bigger, like a recliner! Someone left a mess on the interstate. Something came untied in the back of the truck and a few things, large and small, came tumbling out for drivers to dodge like a live action game of Mario Kart. What a mess!
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably had a few moments when you came home from work and were greeted by a mess. You saw pizza boxes, toys, gym clothes, empty juice boxes and dirty dishes – everywhere. As you prayed for patience, you felt your blood pressure rising as your inner prosecuting attorney demanded accountability, “who made this mess?” and “who is going to clean up this mess?”
Mess-aversion is a generational issue. Your parents didn’t like it when you made a mess and you don’t like it when your kids leave a mess. Yet, it happens all the time – at the most inconvenient times.
But the truth is a mess indicates activity. A mess indicates life, in all its aspects. It’s evidence that someone was there, that something happened. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that life always brings a mess. And in today’s culture it often brings what is commonly called “a hot mess!”
Solomon shares some God-given wisdom in Proverbs 14:4 when he says “without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” (NLT)
Reading though this chapter as part of my devotion time, this verse caught my spirit – especially the word harvest. I want to see a harvest – a harvest of souls. We need to see a harvest and better yet, God promises a harvest. Don’t miss what it takes for this desire to become reality – a strong ox. A strong ox equals a large harvest.
Let that visual sink in – a strong ox. More than likely this implies the ox is fairly large. An animal of this stature can be temperamental and stubborn. A large ox takes up a lot of space, requires a lot of attention, needs a lot food and yes – leaves a big mess, an unpleasant mess!
However, the question God left in my spirit was this, “are we willing to put up with a mess to see a large harvest?” A harvest of this magnitude is going to be messy. The harvest may make a mess of your schedule. You won’t be able to contain it to Sunday morning, Sunday evening or Wednesday night. A harvest of this nature may make a mess of your finances. It may blow your budget. You may have to stop doing some things in order to accommodate the mess of a harvest.
Clean. We like clean. Organized. Everything is where we put it. We can afford clean. There’s minimal preparation for clean and we usually feel good about everything being in its place. Clean. But don’t miss it – clean equals no oxen. No harvest.
It’s easy to be content with clean. It may not be perfect but, it’s clean. Showroom-ready. Messy on the other hand – messy demands attention. It can be ignored for a while but eventually, something has to be done.
Reaching those far from Christ is often messy. Sin has wrecked their relationships, their finances, their reputations and even their health. Messy people sometimes scare us because we’re not sure what to do with them. We definitely don’t want to step in their mess!
But the larger truth is if we are going to see a harvest – the harvest that God promises exists, we will have to get in the middle of messes. Our hands will get dirty. Our schedules will be interrupted. At times it may be unpleasant – even costly. However, we need to remember Jesus is with us and He’s the Master over the messes.
A clean stable requires little effort, but a messy one requires constant attention.
A clean stable will cause less issues. A messy one forces us to our knees as we ask God what to do with those making the mess.
A clean stable keeps the people content. A messy stable causes the angels to rejoice.
Watch the news. Check your social media feed. How much longer can we stay in our clean stables and watch the lost pass by?
Where is that big ox? Who’s ready for mess?