“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean.” Only a woman could read this often overlooked verse and find great joy in it. It is found in awesome chapter 14 of Proverbs and God brought it to my attention this week just when I needed it.
Who wants a clean manger? Well, honestly I do. Or I think I do. I sure spend a lot of time and energy trying to get one. I clean my house multiple times a week, often multiple times a day just trying to keep it “presentable” whatever that really means. I can easily get caught up in the futile frustrations of it all…
BUT...(you could feel that coming, right?)…is it really futile? If I didn’t have oxen, my manger would always be clean. If God hadn’t blessed (yes, I said blessed) me with a husband and children, I would be able to sit back and enjoy a clean home all day, every day. But let’s be real, I wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I sometimes imagine I would. I would miss my cattle very quickly and desire a full and messy manger again with all of my heart.
This verse provided me with a quick shot of proper perspective from my Loving Father. Ladies don’t fret about a messy home. Yes, we need to care for it and keep it comfortable, but we know it will be just a matter of time (usually about 10 minutes in my house) before it is messy again.
If the manger in Bethlehem all those years ago would have been clean and empty, Jesus wouldn’t have had a safe place to lay his head while Mary recovered and could hold him in her arms (not to mention we would be without one of the most awesome Christmas songs EVER). It was all in God’s perfect plan.
God uses our messy homes for his purposes too. We may feel that it is wasted time and of no “real eternal value”, but get real! Remember, God uses EVERYTHING in our lives to shape our hearts as he desires them to be. Through caring for messy oxen, we learn patience, how to serve with a right heart, how to honor God in all we do, how to love others, perseverance, and tenacity. Also how to train our children, delegate, and manage a home. Recall that, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much” Luke 16:10.
We may call it housework, but God calls it all heartwork.
If you are single and feel as if your manger is just too clean… time to mess it up. Seriously. Invite others in to minister to and serve. Find ways to bless the hearts of others in the name of Jesus as God transforms your own.
The second half of this verse goes like this, “but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Where there are oxen, the harvest is plentiful, in our hearts and in theirs. You may at times feel like your family members really are farm animals, but these “animals” are assigned to you to accomplish in your heart exactly what your All-Knowing Father knows you need most. Trust God, the fruit will come and it is promised to be ABUNDANT if you follow him.
Welcome to the glorious process of sanctification, Ladies! I enCOURAGE you to thank God for your messy mangers and the oxen he has entrusted to your care for your good and his glory today.