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Proverbs 14:4 – An empty stable stays clean — but there is no income from an empty stable. (TLB)
Wouldn't life be easier if we didn't have all of the muss and fuss that comes as part of daily living? The Passion Translation expresses today's verse in a humorous way: "The only clean stable is an empty stable. So if you want the work of an ox and to enjoy an abundant harvest, you'll have a mess or two to clean up!" A clean, tidy stall would be wonderful, but the benefit of a strong ox's work comes with strings attached.
We can identify with circumstances in which a good end result comes at the cost of time and effort, to say nothing of disorder and messiness that may be entailed along the way. Here are some starters:
- Successful childrearing comes along with many dirty diapers and spilled milk.
- Entertaining friends requires grocery shopping, tidying up the house, cooking the meal, and cleaning up afterward.
- A house remodeling job leaves a trail of sawdust, bent nails, and disorder before it is completed.
- A sewing project can leave behind snippets of thread and fabric and overlooked pins and needles.
- A beautiful yard entails the clutter of assorted gardening tools, to say nothing of thorns, weeds, and dirt — and a sore back.
- Teaching that touches hearts and changes lives can take hours of sermon preparation or lesson planning.
- Car repair includes the mess of oil and grease as necessary components for a smoothly running vehicle.
Despite the disorder and mess that may be part of the process of a worthwhile endeavour, the end result is worth it all. We may wish that the job could be completed without strain and pain, but that is all part and parcel of the process and is necessary for satisfactory completion of the work.
Let's take this illustration of a clean stable a step further and apply it to some intangible things, in addition to the visible, tangible things that we've considered. Relationships can also be messy and can require time and thought — and flexibility and humility — to straighten out and to keep in order. Our hearts before God are often sinful and in need of cleansing. How thankful we can be that He has made the way for restoring order and peace as we confess our sin and turn to Him for strength to repent and to turn from that sin.
As we face life with all that is involved both inwardly and outwardly, let us willingly accept the difficult, dirty, unpleasant elements, for the sake of achieving the desired result of living a life that is pleasing to God.
Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, forgive us when we try to take shortcuts to bypass the hard work and mess that is part of seeing work through to completion. Give us strength to persevere and the hope of seeing fruit that comes from our labours. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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A good word, Gail.
A wonderful and simple truth we misplace Gail!
Your thoughts are always appreciated, Gail, and today’s devotional comparisons are especially relevant. Thank you.
Oh Gail, what a delightful yet thought-provoking devotional you’ve provided today!
Thanks for the ‘wake-up’ call. It certainly has helped my perspective and given me hope as well.
Gail, This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing.
It’s often not easy to wait on the Lord and persevere for our miracles and testimonies to surface.
May he strengthen us to wait till the end in Jesus name.
Hi Gail, I have not thought deeply about that clean stable. I do recall, however, the pride I wrongly felt when admiring a full library shelf after checking in books and re-shelving them. They looked so neat and organized! I was reminded that the books actually needed to be used by readers to fulfill their purpose. (This was a technical library at Intel). Kind of related to a clean stable?
A Great devotional Gail, Thank you. And no matter what one’s political preference, may the words and prayers in your devotional be the beginning of cleaning up the tragic mess in your homeland. I have many extended relatives and friends throughout a number of States in the U. S.
May God’s Blessings be with everyone.
Take Care. Keep Healthy and Safe and Keep Writing.
Thanks for your interesting devotional today. We need be so thankful that we can turn to our Lord to give us strength and the perseverance to deal with daily workloads and circumstances.
Blessings for your insightful writings and special prayers for you and the people in the U.S.A. as the inauguration takes place this week.
O wow, Gail! The specifics of this thoroughly useful and delightful writing make it something to clip out and hang up for future reference – somewhere I’ll see it and remember! Even the TITLE of your piece is important! (Involving pitchforks and poop pickup and such). I am certain Robin was very pleased to receive it as I am to read it.
Thanks SO much for writing this one.
I must say I don’t know this proverb, but I definitely enjoyed your reflections on it. I know many of us have had similar feelings to what you expressed.
This year of being locked down due to the virus has made me wish for all the work around having company and enjoying in the fun. It would not seem like work, but anticipation of being with others. I know God is there for us all as we turn to him with our wishes of making the virus go away so that life can return to some normalcy and that we will take the lessons we have learned through experiencing it. As we confess to God our sins and realize the great gift, he has given us, we can draw closer to him in this time of need.
Dear Father, help us to live a life that is pleasing to you and accept all that it entails.
Thank you for sharing.
I needed that encouragement today, Martin. Grateful for a well-said devotional.
Perseverance is not as popular as it once was.
Thanks for reminding us of its importance.