“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Proverbs 14:4
I read this verse this morning in my quiet time and it struck me. I know I’ve read it several times before, but for some reason it really stood out today. Maybe because I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with the “messy” side of life lately. Whether it’s scrubbing toilets or working in the garden or organizing paperwork or washing dishes or vacuuming up dog hair or picking up a trail of toys for the millionth time…life is full of messy chores, unpleasant tasks, downright dirty work. Work that no one really sees, tasks that aren’t fun and seem to never end…life is full of manger-cleaning “stable” work.
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean”
I almost rephrased that in my journal to say “Where there are no children, the house is clean” lol. Or “where there are no husbands…" or "where there are no wives who randomly begin projects that are left unfinished all over the dining room table to the point that the family can’t even eat at the table and dinner must be served in the living room…” (Not that I know any wives like that… ;) )
(and I’m pretty sure these versions don’t have quite the same meaning and inference as the verse intended…but still ;) )
If you want abundant crops…if you want success at whatever it is you are doing, as a homemaker or a mother or an employee or a boss or whatever it is you do…chances are there will be some “mangers” to clean, some messy tasks to do, some nitty gritty downright dirty work involved.
Sure, the stable would be sparkling clean and smell great if you had no oxen in there. But without the ox, you can’t plow the fields. “Abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Oxen are messy. They require a whole set of chores and care. But they are strong. And they are part of the “abundant crops” package.
I don’t have any actual oxen in my life. I don’t farm. At all. I am barely able to grow a little tomato in my tiny backyard garden, let alone harvest an abundant crop of any sort. I don’t even know if modern-day farmers even use oxen to plow their fields anymore. But I think everyone has some kind of “ox” in their life…some kind of necessary (though sometimes messy) thing that adds strength and helps you plow whatever kind of field you are plowing.
So today I’m thinking about what the “oxen” are in my life and I’m thanking God for them, and for the messes and the unpleasant chores and tasks and all the messy stuff that goes along with the work He has called me to do. Because I know that my faithfulness in even the small, unnoticed, unpleasant tasks is important. It all matters. Even messy manger-cleaning stable work. ;)