Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. (ESV)
No cattle, no crops; a good harvest requires a strong ox for the plow. (MSG)
During this season of my life, I have been repeatedly faced with the challenge of choosing to do what is easy and comfortable or going beyond contentment and working hard towards more meaningful things. The human brain’s default is to seek safety and control and order. But the verse tells us that we will have to tend to the messiness of the oxen in order to reap the fullest harvest. I’m not a farm expert, but I can imagine that it’s not the most pleasant thing in the world to care for cattle. You have to feed them, clean up after them, and they probably don’t smell great. You have to deal with crap (literally) in order to get to the crop. I find myself rationalizing why I shouldn’t take the next step or put forth effort to reach the next level, sometimes without even realizing I’m just looking for a way to make myself most comfortable in the immediate. But because I know I’m inclined to stay in places where I feel like I have the most familiarity and control, I constantly have to look inward and ask myself if I’m just trying to take the easy way out and missing out on opportunities for growth.
Jesus, thank you for not taking the easy way out!! Thank you for wading through the messiness that is ME and believing I was worth it. Holy Spirit, help me to not be complacent with anything less than the full harvest that God has prepared for me. I pray for passion, perseverance, and purposefulness, in Jesus’s name, amen!