"Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest." Proverbs 14:4 NLT
I read this verse in my devotions about a week ago. My first thought was, "how true". Without oxen, a farmer will never have a large harvest, even though it would be easier to have no oxen which requires daily feeding and messy clean-up. Then I thought about the ministry application. Ministry involves people. People’s lives are messy and involve a lot more work than staying home, uninvolved, in a safe, controlled environment. But the verse was to revisit me again this week.
My husband, Art, and I were driving through northern Utah on the way back from a funeral. The skies were dark. Strong storms were predicted. It was just starting to rain. Art wanted to drive 15 miles up a canyon to see a piece of land. The last part of our journey would be on dirt roads. Messy complications don’t deter him like me. I thought of Proverbs 14:4. He sees the harvest while I see icy roads (real or imagined), mud, time, hassle and I would prefer at least to have a map. I see the details and the mess instead of the journey and the end goal.
This morning, I awoke thinking of two large ministry events in the near future. Initial panic set it. Just the thought was overwhelming. Then, I remembered Proverbs 14:4 once again. The events are an opportunity for a large harvest. Large harvests don’t happen without teams of people, tons of details, sacrifice and mess.
Then I realized my problem; it’s not the events. My problem is one of vision. I can focus on God and His plan for the event, or I can focus on what I will have to do and all the work it will take. My mind needs to be focused on God and the goal, not on me. Colossians 3:1-2 says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
We all need to be careful. We could be in danger of limiting what God wants to do through us because we are fearful of the unknown, overwhelmed by the task, and wanting to be in control instead of yielded to God, His ways and His plans. We might prefer the stable without oxen, like the road trip without detours, or ministry without people, but that isn’t what God has called us to. In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
What is keeping you from the harvest?
Father, I confess my self-centeredness. I have focused on the clean and simple rather than on the harvest. Transform my thinking. Transform my heart. Help me to see possibilities, not problems. In my weakness, help me to rely on Your strength. Let the words that come from my mouth be Yours and not mine. Help me to see people, circumstances and opportunities like Jesus. Amen.
Posted on Wed, May 6, 2015
by Sam Petitfils