Sowing, Reaping, and a Great Big Shovel

​Paulette Reed

As I looked around my office the other day, I thought to myself, “I wonder if I have too many projects going on?” As I looked around, I saw a pile of documents for personal taxes, a separate pile for ministry taxes, a pile of messages that needed completion, and Bibles, notes, and other study materials surrounded all of this. The folding sofa was covered with rolls of construction plans for an assignment the Lord has given me sometime ago, and there are piles of papers that need to be filed from 2014 and 2015.

In the next room a table was covered with photos, t-shirt transfers, and iron-on letters that I need for the shirts I’m making my grandchildren. There are also piles of promotional fliers that need to be distributed for the ministry and piles of fliers in the process of being created. There’s a book to study Alzheimer’s so I can serve a loved one well, as well as birthday and anniversary cards that needed to get in the mail yesterday. There are partner lists, prayer lists, reader lists, and grocery lists. My goodness, all of the mangers seem to be full!

The longer I stood and scanned the situation, the more I began to smile. I could only rejoice in the fact that I love being about my Father’s business. In fact, the moment I complete a project it seems my spirit is crying out, “Abba Father, what do You want to do next?” Proverbs 14:4 came to mind that day: “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean. But much increase comes by the strength of the ox.”

How do your mangers look today? Whether it’s your school, office, home, or pickup truck, are your mangers full of dirty straw? And how about those calendars? Are they perfectly neat and tidy, or perhaps a bit messy? It seems that things don’t always line up as we’d like them to—there are overlapping appointments and choices we have to make as to where we’re supposed to be at a specific time. Let’s face it, life can get cluttered—we can’t be everywhere at once. Business here, family there, relationships over here…and it’s all good!

Contrary to the scene I just described to you, I’m actually not a messy person. I don’t like clutter at all, and, as an administrator, I work hard to put things in order. If you were to ask my three adult sons about me, they would tell you that for years I’ve said, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” The problem is that I have lot of things and a lot of places those things need to be in. I read too many books and study materials to have a clean office. And my ministry unto the Lord, family, and friends are all too important for me to maintain an uncluttered schedule.

That’s why Proverbs 14:4 is so encouraging. It says, in effect, that messy mangers are not only okay, but they are very important and necessary to a productive life. If we truly want uncluttered mangers and barns, the solution is easy enough: don’t keep any oxen. Unfortunately, however, uncluttered barns are unproductive barns. Well, there we have it—I answered my own question. Do I have too many projects going on? Absolutely not! Rather, I have a productive and full life, engaging in the work my Father has given me to do. May each task, whether it’s lending to the nations or taking a long-stemmed rose to a friend, carry eternal value for the King of kings and Lord of lords.

There’s a real life key here contained in the messiness and clutter of life: if we want expansion, then we must expand. That’s what the Word teaches us in Isaiah 54:2, right? We must expand our tent pegs if we want growth! Streeetch…can you feel it? If we are too comfortable that we are not able to expand, then we might be giving the enemy and others a wrong message about our lives. “Okay, I have this neat, little area with a neat, little agenda, and that’s the way I intend to keep it.” Hmm, that doesn’t sound like plans from the God of the universe, does it? Since God is our partner, let’s make our plans large—large enough to include Him.

Even though I’m an administrator for the Lord, I take on the extra clutter in all of the mangers where my God ideas are birthed, because, like a farmer, I know it’s worth it. More specifically, I know the results will be well worth all of the time and attention and clutter that I have put up with. Whether it’s a fruitful church, ministry, or life, success doesn’t come without a degree of messiness. Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean. But where God is at work, there is messiness.

Most all of the Proverbs can be rewritten in one sentence. Well, here’s a friend’s version of Proverbs 4:14 that I laughed at when I heard her say it: “With much increase often comes much crap.” As I look at my piles of work that need to be done, files that need to be put away, messages to be completed, and books to be read, I guess I’ll just keep smilin’ because God is at work in my life! And I’m pretty positive, if you would take a look at the messiness of your life that He is at work in yours too!