I have never lived on a farm or on a ranch, so I won’t pretend to know much about the subjects of barns or cattle. And this post has nothing to do with the fact that I have borne the nickname of Cow Patty for many years………thanks to an old song and a family with a wonderful collective sense of humor. Even when I pick up prescriptions at our pharmacy, there in bold black letters on the paperwork stapled to my little bag are the first three letters of my last name…….MOO. So I know that God also has a sense of humor.
I give you this history to explain that maybe this is why I first noticed a verse I found as I was reading one morning in Proverbs. Proverbs 14:4, to be exact. Now I know the verse uses the word “oxen”, but oxen are close cousins to cows………and I relate somehow to cows, as you read above. I mean, even my daughter calls me “Moo.” Seriously, she does………with respect. Anyway, as I pondered this verse, the truth it taught jumped out at me even more than its bovine contents. This verse says, “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean; But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.”
I can imagine a pretty barn, much like this beautiful red barn not far from our house. I have no idea what the inside of this barn is like, but I know that if a barn is full of cattle, there will inevitably be messes. Some very big messes, if you know what I mean. And there will be the hay and the dust and the tools and all the other implements necessary in order to raise these farm animals. Now if you decided that you want a clean barn…….a clean barn all the time………then you’re going to have to get rid of the cows. There’s just no other way around it, because where there are cows there are going to be piles…….of mess.
So as this verse says………sure, when the cows are gone then the barn is clean. BUT………where there are cows, there is revenue. Whether the revenue is from milk or from meat……….or as in Bible days was also from the oxen pulling the plows in the fields…………you gotta have the cows if you want the cash.
I love the note that is in my Bible in reference to this verse. It says, “There is no milk without some manure.” I love that word picture and the lesson that it teaches! The note continues by saying, “Some disturbance is the price of growth and accomplishment.”
You know what? Life gets messy. Marriage, children, friendships, even ministry………they all get messy sometimes. I can live in a clean barn if I want……….protect myself from hurt by never putting myself out there and never letting myself get close to people or even my family. I can choose to stay away from being a part of other’s lives in ministry by just sitting on the sidelines and refusing to get involved. I can close my heart to God, citing examples of how His children aren’t even exempt from life’s crushing blows. I can have the cleanest and most pristine barn on the block. Clean……empty………silent……….lifeless.
Or I can choose to fill my barn with cattle and then get busy taking care of them, all the while cleaning up the messes while I pocket all the blessings that I will gather. The blessings outweigh the messes anyway, in the long run. Any follower of Jesus is going to suffer. Jesus taught that and exampled that to us while on this earth. His was not a secluded life free of conflict and hurt……and mine will not be, either.
When I see the pile of mess, I need to thank God for it………..because each predicament means growth in my life. I learn from it but I don’t leave it there……….and I certainly don’t wallow in it. I do my best to clean it up………and what I can’t clean or others won’t let me clean, I give it to God for Him to handle.
As much as I may sometimes want a clean barn, I really do relish the life and the activity of a barn full of cattle……….messy though they are. But I’ll also have buckets of milk lining my barn, evidence of the life and the growth there……as well as the profit. As I walk this earth and live this life, I know that I will have discouragements and great hurt along the way. There will be messes that break my heart…………but that likewise cause me to grow and fill me with countless buckets of blessings!
God’s keeping the books, and the profit I receive will be eternal and everlasting!
Remember…………No Manure, No Milk!
*Thanks to Beth Hite for the pictures from Hite Farm and Faye Farm.