“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” – Proverbs 14:4

Life is messy. Even when we think we have everything in its place and our life seems to be smooth sailing, a tempest is usually brewing waiting to explode. Now as I write this it sounds extremely pessimistic. But, I am not pessimistic about my life. I am very optimistic about where my life is and where it is going. I am also not saying this because I feel “oh, poor me, my life is tough.”  Life is difficult for everyone. There are people we know that seem to never have trouble in their lives. Their lives seemed to be blessed and our lives seem to be cursed. The reality is that even those who seem to be living a blessed life, still have troubles and concerns. They are still human and subject to all the difficulties, fears, and worries that the rest of us deal with. No one is immune.

Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.” Jesus was warning His disciples that they would be scattered. This had to be a terrifying proposition. The had lived with each other for three years and their master had taught them and loved them in amazing ways. Now they would experience a tempest, but Jesus told them not to be afraid but to have peace. How is this possible? How do we have peace in the middle of the tempests of life? Do we just ignore the fact that we are being bombarded by a storm and pretend that it isn’t happening? Do we say, “Poor me” and try to get pitty from those around us? No, we don’t do any of these thngs. Why? Because Christ finishes His thought in John 16:33 with, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Christ has overcome all the darkness and all evil things in this world. It may not seem like it while we are in the midst of a storm, but we have Christ at our side to carry us through the storm. He doesn’t keep the storm from us or move us out of the storm. He gives us the strength and endurace to weather the storms of life. The problem is that too many times we try to weather them by our own abilities. We try to buck-it-up and just endure, when in reality Jesus wants us to turn to Him and persevere by His power. This takes being in a relationship with Christ to do this. Jesus is not Superman who swoops in to save us when we are in trouble. He is that ever present friend who wants to be in a relationship with us during the good and bad times. Jesus wants to be our constant companion. The only way to maintain this relationship with Christ is with a steady diet of prayer, scripture reading, and practicing spiritual disciplines. In future posts I will explore each of the spiritual disciplines.

We would all love to have a clean manger, but sometimes we have to let the oxen into the manger in order to have an abundant harvest. Sometimes messy is good.

Father, I pray that you will remind me that you are with me even when the dark storms are brewing in my life. Help me to maintain my relationship with you no matter what the circumstances. It is by your power that I can be content as Paul when he said “I have learned to be content no matter what the circumstance.”  – Amen

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