By Sister Tarpley, NDG Religion Editor
Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest. (Proverbs 14:4)
When Jesus came into this world, He chose to be born in a most unusual place, a manger. It was no more than a livery stable with goats, oxen, and other livestock animals. There is a distinctive characteristic about a place like this. It is filled with odors and dung from the animals.
God seems to work best among the unpleasantness of circumstances. In fact, “where there are no oxen, the manger is empty.” What is this really saying? It is believed by many to say that in order for Jesus to be present, we must invite those things that bring with them “messes to clean up.” God works among the messy things in our lives. And from these messes comes an abundant harvest. This is what He did with all His highly used servants in the Bible.
God is filled with paradoxes. Because God likes to show Himself in the midst of the messes of life is why life can’t be seamless and smooth. This is what brings us into the harvests. Most often the bigger the mess, the bigger the harvest.
When a major road-construction project takes place in a crowded city street, it appears to be absolute chaos. It is inconvenient, slow-moving and tends to get us irritated because it appears we are moving much slower than we would like. It is ugly, and so much of what we see is torn up. But when we look at that same area for a few months or years later, we see why the construction was necessary. There was meaning to the mess. It actually made life so much better for those who would use the road.
It has been through the messiest of times in Christian’s business and personal lives that God has revealed His power and strength in their lives. It was when these “oxen” of hardship have walked into their manger that the greatest harvest was manifest. However, when Christians have sought to remove the “oxen” and rid itself of the odor and the mess, that the Christians have fought the ultimate work of God. God works in mangers.
Now is the time to confess that you often get caught up in the “daily grind.” Perhaps you concentrate on the things that must be done, on earning a living, taking care of family matters, going to church, maintaining and improving your house, and so much more.
Perhaps it is times that you don’t just stop and reflect on what He wants from you. Confess to God that you are sorry. Ask God, what does He want to do through you today? Ask God what does He want you to accomplish for a purpose greater than you. Ask for help to have pure motives and always a willing heart.
Pray that you will do as His Word exhorts in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
May God be glorified in all you do, in Jesus’ name.