Thank You for the Mess

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox." - Proverbs 14:4
I like things clean. I don't think I'm a "neat freak" but I enjoy things picked up and tidy. I don't know about you, but I find it really hard to live and work in the middle of a mess. I see a mess and my visceral reaction tends to be frustration. But God has been teaching me to chill out. I've been learning that there are some messes that can prompt me to gratitude instead of grumbling. We see it in this proverb.

This proverb teaches us that there are some consequences (like a messy manger) that naturally come because of the blessing of something else (the strength of the ox). It's like the writer is saying, "Which would you rather have? A clean manger and no crops, or a messy manger and the abundance of crops?"

As the old expression says, “You’ve got to take the bad with the good.” I think of the mess that my kids often make around the house. Someday, I'm going to miss that mess being around because the popcorn cornels embedded in the rug and the pants spilled on the floor meant that they were around. Of course, this doesn't mean we don't clean up and pick up. It's just a reminder to my petty heart that many of my frustrations or challenges are the natural result of having other really good things in our lives that we wouldn't want to do without. Next time you spot a mess in your life, see if you can't trace it back to something good that's causing it. See if by faith you might say to God, "Thank you for the mess."

Father, help me to focus on the “abundance of crops” that you've placed in my life today, not the mess of the manger that comes with them. Give me eyes to see your hand of goodness even in the messes of life. Amen.