I finally put away all of the Christmas decorations and cleaned up my garage this past weekend – it’s a good feeling to have a clean garage. I can identify with 1 Corinthians 14:40, “But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” Life however, has a way of teaching us the reality of the second law of thermodynamics also known as entropy. Entropy is the gradual decline into disorder in a closed system. If you ever doubt the truth about entropy just clean your garage and then go out there a few weeks later, the result is chaos and disorganization – and it increases exponentially if you have small children.

The organization of our garage can be an apt metaphor for life. I have a theory about garages based upon my empirical research, there are three basic scenarios:

Empty garage – I have never see an empty garage, but theoretically it’s possible that one may exist.

Clean garage – This is extremely rare and has not been seen with families who have young children.

Messy garage – This accounts for over 95% of garages in North America. The garage seems to be the junk drawer of rooms.

I like neatness and organization but as I survey the contents of my garage I wonder, “What would I do if I didn’t have it?” The Christmas decorations are safely packed away for the next eleven months. The boxes of legos and assorted toys are ready for the grand-girls when they come to visit. The beach buggy and chairs are waiting for the return of warmer weather when we visit the ocean. Although there is a lot of “stuff” in the garage it makes our lives easier. Solomon gives us sage advice in the book of Proverbs as he reveals this truth,

Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox. (Proverbs 14:4)

The expression “much revenue” may also be translated an abundant harvest. If you want an abundant harvest then you need to have some oxen. The downside of having oxen they are going to make a mess (don’t think about the mess too much). You have a choice – you can have a clean stall or you can have an abundant harvest but you can’t have both.

At times we can get frustrated because our lives are not neat and tidy and life seems so messy. You can isolate yourself and create a life that does not involve others and you will have no mess but you will also have no impact. C.S. Lewis, makes this point in, The Four Loves, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

Let’s face it, life is messy. If you’re willing to put up with the mess then you will enjoy the abundant harvest. I’m willing to put up with the oxen, how about you – just watch out where you step:)

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

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