Now, don't laugh, but I meditate upon this verse a lot:
"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox." ... Proverbs 14:4
Ha! Have you ever thought about what that verse is really saying? To me, it says, "If you want to have an abundant, full-as-can-be life, you must accept that your helpers will sometimes dump messes on you along the way."
I mean, with our new cats, Sammy and Daniel the first six weeks felt eternal, complicated, tiring and we wondered what we'd gotten ourselves into. But now? These cats fill our lives with companionship, laughter and a coziness discovered no other way.
Yet we had to slog through those first six weeks--and still now--we must put up with a few knocked-over items, tufts of black hair on the carpet (I vacuum daily now) and of course, the litter boxes must be changed. But Sammy and Daniel are worth it all.
And how about the friends we all have in Life? Sometimes they criticize what we love, have a headache and take out their pain on us or pass over lightly something we valued incredibly high. But what happens if we can't accept their humanity? If, after 'three strikes, we throw them out'?
We will eventually end up, alone. And God, Himself, said, "It is not good for (wo)man to be alone."
So if we want friends, we must accept that friends come with potential pain. At times their truth-about-us will hurt us, too! And yes, sometimes we must confront others if their behavior, over and over, is unacceptable. There is that, of course.
And yet mostly? If we want help getting through this thing called Life, we must accept that our aid will come, flawed. Because oh, we are--all of us--so very flawed, being human and all.
And that is where God's bright, unconditional love comes in--a love that sees past imperfections and peers much deeper into the heart's intentions. For most friends mean well, but somewhere between our heart and the doing of a thing, we can all sometimes blow it.
But yet, again, no abundant crops will grow if the stall is always clean. Life is messy, but God can help us through anything not to our liking.
Speaking of stalls and oxen, I was tooling around my blog and found this old, original picture of our former barn:
And then I compared it with the 'after picture':
Wow. Kinda reminds you of the changes God makes inside us when we finally let Him work on us, doesn't it?
Want to see some really gorgeous old barns? Go here.