Friday, April 14, 2006

Dirty Barns

"An empty stable stays clean, but no income comes from an empty stable." - Proverbs 14:4, NLT

The youth pastor at our church wrote a great end-of-the-year letter based on this verse. I cannot take credit for the insight; that would be religious plagiarism. Anyway, he wrote about how messy youth ministry can be - quite literally, as he spends time each week cleaning up after neighborhood teenagers who use the skateboarding ramps set up outside the youth barn. (Barn. I guess that makes the analogy even more realistic. Hehe.) He said that this is frustrating to him, and he would much prefer to not spend his time in this way, but then he recalled this verse and realized that in order to have a clean 'barn', he would have to get rid of his 'oxen' - the teenagers. No oxen = no harvest. He jokes that now he cleans up the 'manure' with a better attitude.

I read this letter just the other day, and then this morning ran across the verse in Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is so great - short little phrases that offer profound wisdom for everyday life. I think that this verse (like so many in Proverbs) can be applied to many situations in life. I applied it to my home. I find a lot of housework to be very satisfying, but that doesn't mean that I enjoy it all the time. I don't particularly like scraping dried mashed banana off the floor. There is at this very moment a crusted-over puddle of liquid laundry detergent on my laundry room floor, where the giant keg of Tide apparently dripped its contents for quite a while without being noticed. I know it's there. I know that if I don't clean it up, it will eventually discolor and maybe damage the linoleum. But I am putting it off because it just doesn't sound like a very pleasant chore. (It takes a lot of water to clean up a pile of soap.) What would it take to have a perfectly clean house? An empty house. An empty house is a clean house. One where no people come in and 'mess it up'. I think there is a name for a house like that. Museum.

I have come to enjoy hanging my husband's robe up every morning. It used to annoy me. I would find it in a crumpled heap on the floor, or thrown onto the bed, and I would sigh and shake my head. Now I like hanging it up. It reminds me every day that on that morning, my husband woke up. Blessing #1 - my husband is alive. He got out of bed. Blessing #2 - he is able-bodied. He spent time in his robe, meaning he spent time enjoying the comfort of our home. Blessing #3 - we have a home and the leisure to enjoy it. Then he discarded the robe and got dressed for work. Blessing #4 - he has a job and is able to provide for our family. Messy stable? Yep. But the harvest is so good.

I think this applies to life in general, too. What would it take to have a clean life? To not have to deal with anything messy? It would take an empty mind, and an empty heart. A person without principles, without integrity, can go through life unchallenged. All they have to do is whatever is easiest at that moment. They don't have to think for themselves, they don't have to ponder anything, they don't have to show compassion, and they don't have to practice kindness. It is easy to be shallow and selfish. But, oh, how empty. How fruitless. At the end of the day, I would rather be tired from physical and mental exertion, weary from concern for the oppressed, and overwhelmed by a concept that my mind has not yet been able to grasp; I would rather feel this way than to fall asleep unencumbered by thoughts of anything greater than myself. I'd rather have a messy barn than a clean one.


Bob said...

Is there some sort of Biblical justification for leaving one's socks in the living room?

Holly said...

To quote a wise friend: "This is me not getting involved." :)