If you want to make a success out of life, you have to get your hands dirty. Life is messy and it takes hard work. Success also takes a right relationship with God.
This one little verse stands alone in my bible helps and in my mind too. It is unlike its neighbors. It speaks of the need for a bit of unpleasant jobs on the road to success. It doesn’t directly relate to a relationship with God in its verbiage but I would say that was a foregone conclusion.
You may want things neat and tidy in your life but in order to get anywhere you actually have to have a little unpleasant work and a bit of a mess. The owner of the “manger” needs the mess associated with an ox to produce a good harvest. Yes, he could plow his fields on his own but his strength only goes so far. The oxen do a MUCH better job than he can do alone. But he has to be willing to take care of the ox’s needs to get that harvest.
In EVERY ‘job’ there are parts we don’t enjoy. When I worked for a hearing aid company, it was VERY common for people to complain about the paperwork they had to fill out. We needed it to chart their test results, track any changes, contact them regarding scheduling, and get the right device to the right person. “You have paperwork to do everywhere you go, even in the bathroom” was my standard response. This phrase always got a laugh and broke the ice. Never again did that customer complain about the paperwork. It also helped that their first visit and subsequent sales were the only times they had any paperwork to do.
If we stopped doing a job just because of the ‘dirty’ jobs we would never see success. Even the Body of Christ has “unseemly members” in it. These are the parts that do the dirty work so the rest of the body can continue to function. This might be the janitor whose job it is to clean the bathroom. Or the people who have to clean the kitchen after a rowdy potluck. These jobs are no fun and don’t get a lot of notice but they are essential for the functioning of any body of believers.
Imagine if the digestive system refused to put out waste because it was too dirty. It would totally back up and leave no room for more ‘fuel’ to enter. Everybody poops! That’s how we are made. If we don’t, we die. We cannot eliminate all the tough parts in life.
When we approach a difficult job, we need to focus on the final result. Do what it takes to get through it instead of avoiding it. That is the path to success.
In our walk with the Lord we have ‘dirty jobs’ too. We call them lessons. Without the lessons we would never grow. I for one would rather do the hard work than to stay stuck as I am. It takes discipline to push through the hard parts and those hard parts are often part of the ‘discipline’ God is using to help us grow.
Here is another ‘for instance’ to think about. Suppose you had a child that was NEVER allowed to be dirty or ‘get in the way’ of the grown-ups. You would have a child that failed to grow, failed to thrive. This child would never learn how to eat on its own, never be toilet trained, never explore his/her world, or have any meaningful learning experiences. It would be a miracle if this child even survived because CHILDREN ARE MESSY! They are noisy, they poop, they spit up, they wake you up in the middle of the night, and a hundred other things that make raising a child a challenge. But IT IS worth it.
Plainly and simply, life is messy. If you want to have any measure of success, it means getting your hands dirty.
Father God, thank You for ‘letting me play in the dirt’ at times. Thank You for letting, and encouraging, me to explore this wonderful world You made. Thank You for also being there to wipe the mud off my hands when it’s time to move on. Thank You for helping me grow. No. Not every ‘lesson’ was enjoyable but I ALWAYS learned something from them. They are what made me into who I am today.
Reminds me of the song, “Dear Younger Me.” Would I have skipped any of the lessons along the way? Maybe, but then would I be who I am today? I’m not totally happy with myself at this point but I don’t think I would change how I got here. Also, being a bit unsatisfied gives me room to grow. Thank You that I can trust You to bring the right lessons and the perfect moment from now on too. “Little by Little.”