Kids are messy. I knew that before I had ‘em. And I didn’t mind the thought of that at all.
I imagined me running through a sprinkler with them in the yard until we were all soaked and covered with grass and mud. I saw us mixing up a batch of cookie dough, the kitchen and our laughing faces covered with flour. I envisioned a bathtub full of kids, squealing and splashing and throwing bubbles everywhere.
Those are cute, fun thoughts. Until you get to the part where somebody’s got to clean up that mess…and not just that mess, but all the other ones they make NONSTOP THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE DAY.
This picture is cute and funny, too. Why? Because you and I aren’t the ones with our hands in it, wiping it off our floors and furniture!
Are having kids totally worth the trouble? Yes. YES!!! But don’t overlook the fact that the word “trouble” IS there.
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox,” says Proverbs 14:4.
Well, guess what else is messy? Ministry.
I know that, too. And I’m okay with the thought of that until some mess gets ON ME. Or hurts my feelings. Or requires me to sacrifice time and effort cleaning it up.
That harvest sounds pretty doggone good, but feeding the oxen and dealing with what he leaves behind? I don't necessarily want to go there.
So, do I blame the oxen for his mess and get rid of him? I must be doing this wrong, right? WHY DOES HE KEEP POOPING?! Or do I realize it’s just part of the process?
Jesus embraced ministry, and people, mess and all. He took grown men’s stinky, dirty feet in His hands and washed them. He called the uneducated, the traitors, the hot-heads, and the swindlers to to be His disciples. He ruined His reputation with the religious crowd when He hung out with drunks and prostitutes.
And when I come to think about it, He embraced ME, too, mess and all. He died on the cross so the mess would never have to come between us. And He’s committed to complete the good work He started in me, so every day, He’s patiently changing me so that I’m less and less mess and more and more miracle.
When people are involved, some mess is guaranteed. Not mess at a distance, but in-my-face, put-my-agenda-on-hold, make-people-gossip, empty-myself kind of mess. Offensive mess. Mess that gets on me and takes some time.
Will the harvest be worth the mess? Yes. YES!
My mind goes back a few years to our mobile home living room filled with college students. We lost many an hour of sleep studying the Bible, talking, laughing, and eating junk food with those kids...many an hour spent scraping cheese dip off my crockpot. Just Sunday night, one of the guys who made a habit of staying until 2 a.m. to talk was ordained into the ministry. He asked Gunter to speak at his ordination service. That harvest was so, so worth the time spent, and will continue to be worth it.
So right now, in this phase of our lives, we’re back in the classroom. We’re observing, and we’re taking notes. We’re doing some hands-on study in the very small laboratory that is our family and workplace.
It’s strange to be more in soaking mode than in pouring-out mode. But during this intensive time of learning, God is preparing us little by little before He turns us loose on our church plant city.