As a new school year begins, most of us are excited. We have new curricula, shiny pens and pencils, matching notebooks and paper, and we cannot wait to start! But I always had in the back of my mind some hesitation. Kind of like when you wanted to dive into the pool when you were a kid, but you knew the water was cold. You knew the sudden blast of frigidness was going to be shocking. But you just had to jump in. That was the only way.
That’s how I usually felt at the beginning of each school year. A little hesitant to dive in. I didn’t share it with anyone, because they all seemed so excited. And, really, I was too, but the excitement was always coupled with a little bit of dread.
What? How can I say that?
Well, I’m just being honest. I knew the upcoming year was going to be filled with, let’s face it, hard work. And I just couldn’t be absolutely, completely happy about that on the inside. But as I faced this feeling year after year, I began to realize a few things.
You see, a productive life is a messy one. As a farmer, if you have oxen that you are using on the farm, then you will have a messy barn, won’t you? There will be hay strewn throughout their stalls and, of course, the byproduct-of-eating-hay strewn all over, too. That means there will be more work to keep things in order. And it won’t ever really be completely clean, will it?
I used to sigh out loud and think to myself as I looked over my house, “Yep. We live in a barn.” And this was before I really understood this proverb. It seemed that no matter what cleaning plan I had or what chore schedule I made, we always had messes.
But take another look at the first part of that verse: “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty…”
I would sometimes let my thoughts go this direction, “If I had no children, of course my house would be clean and ordered. Or at least if I didn’t homeschool them, I would have a few hours each day to stay on top of the clutter.”
But, of course, I really didn’t want that. I love my children. I LOVED watching them learn and grow at their pace and with loving and supportive encouragement. I knew that they were a gift from God, and we felt that God had called us to homeschool.
And it would be work. So it would be messy.
But let me just say that ANY productive life is messy. We were created to work for a purpose. Many people think that work was a curse that came with the fall of Adam and Eve. But think about it. They LIVED. IN. EDEN…a place where the ground was rich, and there was no disease. So the plants grew richly. Adam and Eve were instructed to tend that garden.
Tending was work. The fall introduced toil, sweat on our brow, weeds, and disease. But work was a part of who we were created to be.
It gives us purpose, productivity, dignity. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.
Working gives us great satisfaction. We have purpose and are productive. Of course, we then model that for our children…a good work ethic, working unto the Lord.
And mess will always be a part of that.
So as you begin your school year, smile a little when you see those little messes that pop up. Thank the Lord you have laundry to wash and food to feed your family. Be grateful for the work ahead of you. As our lives are filled with little ones who we are charged to raise, rejoice in the fact that our mangers are not empty and we are working for an abundant harvest.
Once you jump into that pool, after the initial shock you find that the water is refreshing and holds you up. Let’s focus on these things as this year begins!
Have an extraordinary day!