My father was a tool and die maker by trade but a carpenter by choice.He made all sorts of stuff in his workshop from common household items to sweet children’s toys for his grandchildren. That’s how I remember him most, that and the smells of the workshop. Sawdust has a sweet, dry scent but also paint and turpentine (not so sweet). He had many hobbies beside woodworking. He discovered an artistic talent late in life which turned his bedroom into an artist’s studio. The man had the greenest thumb in the neighborhood and always grew the tallest sunflowers and tastiest tomatoes. I remember marigold flowers that he would save each year to dry and use the seeds in the spring. To this day, when I plant marigolds their pungent scent sends me back to my childhood. He was always working on several things at once which kept him very busy. It was always fun to watch him unveil each new project, many of which are still in use in my own home today. I’ll be the first to admit, though, that his workshop was a cluttered mess. and I was never allowed to straighten anything up as he might never find it again. But that was alright, because so much beauty came out of that workshop. That room was meant to be used, and the floor was meant to be covered in sawdust and his clothing was meant to be stained with oil paint while a constant smell of turpentine hung in the air because he lived and laughed and enjoyed himself when he was working on one of his creations. Had all his tools, paintbrushes and gardening trowels stayed clean, housework would have been a breeze but my life would have been so flat and colorless.
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strentgh of the ox, comes an abundant harvest.”
Proverbs 14:4 NIV
Um, Yeah. that’s not really making much sense. And that’s a shame because it’s a great verse. Here it is again in the New LIving Translation.
“Without the oxen the stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” Proverbs 14:4 NLT
Toys are meant to be played with. Your good jewelry is meant to be worn. Sunsets are meant to be enjoyed. Dogs are meant to have thier bellies rubbed. This might all seem rather obvious but here’s one that trips alot of people up: life is meant to be lived. I know, you probably seen it on a hundred bumper stickers and Hallmark cards but it’s a pretty rough one when you think about it. If you are hurt in some way, you may not be so fast to get up again. When a relationship crumbles, you will think twice before jumping back on that particular horse. Sure, your stable will stay clean but there will be no harvest for you. Life gets messy. Relationships can be painful. There have been times when I blocked myself off from the world because things were just getting too crazy. It gave me a much needed chance to catch up, rest up and clean up. But once the reconstructive work is done – then what? That’s when i would realize that i needed to reconnect with a friend or reach out to a family member and start to live again.
Letting someone get past the guarded walls of your heart is a difficult, painful task. It takes time and patience on both sides to build trust. There will be misunderstanding and sometimes downright selfish behaviour. It will hurt. And that’s when you are just dealing with people. When you let Jesus start to have control of your life, things really get rocking. Someone told me once that “Jesus had really messed thier life up.” I was a new Christian at the time and thought that it was a horrible thing to say. But now, a lifetime later, it’s starting to make sense. Jesus takes us to places that we never would have dreamed of going and never thought we wanted to go to. He places us in situations that didn’t seem possible only a few short months earlier. He will orchestrate the ebb and flow of the people that you will associate with and it might not always turn out the way you think it should. He will surprise you with invitations to parties that don’t seem to be your cup of tea. He will ruin you for the casualness of this world as He focuses your mind on the things above. He will mess up your life and you will find that it’s not such a bad thing.
When the ox is running around the stable, things will not be clean and tidy. But the clean, sterile stable is a cold place. Give me the dirty straw and mud of a working barn. Let my heart shows scars from mishandling and mistrusts. And let Christ “shine his light in our heart” (2 Corn. 4:6), that same misshapen and scarred heart, because His is the light which will show the beauty born forth from a life lived in a messy stable.