The One Thing All of Us Have in Common
By Ed Delph
May 21, 2018
Years ago at my church, I shared a message called, ‘No Milk, No Manure.’ I was tempted to call it, 'Poop Happens’ but then backed off. Notice I didn’t use the other four-letter word I could have used. I think you understand why.
The people in my church loved it. People made me home-made models of ‘poop’ for my desk. I have no idea what they used. I don’t want to know. But the big saying at our church for a while was ‘Poop Happens.’ People still talk about that message.
Obviously, this is a metaphor. Let's look at Proverbs 14:4. "Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox." In other words, oxen make a mess. But that’s better than having a clean stall with no oxen. When Proverbs was written it was an agrarian culture. Oxen were like gold. Oxen got things done. Oxen plowed the fields, produced milk, hauled the crop to market. The list is endless. One trip to rural India even today will convince you of the value of an oxen.
The only problem is, oxen are alive. When you have life, you have dirty stalls. Where there’s life, there is excrement. Excrement is a sign something is alive. For everything to be perfect in life you would have to be a permanent resident of a graveyard! Where there's life, there's both good and bad things. Poop happens.
No person, no government, no country, no city, no marriage, no relationship, no job, no ideology, no situation, or no new house is going to be perfect for long. That's a hard pill to swallow for us perfectionists! That doesn't mean we should not strive to make things better. But, as they say, the process of life means that 'stuff' happens.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:44-45, "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you (manure) in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven (milk); for He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous." You see, no one gets away with all milk and no manure or all manure and no milk. That's life!
The key to manure is to use it for growing, not groaning! Too many of us think the light at the end of the tunnel is a train! Some of us, after many manure experiences, have adopted a defensive attitude. Steven Wright said, "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines." You may feel like the guy who went to get his brakes fixed and the mechanic said, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder!" Trials come, and trials go. My mother’s favorite phrase in the Bible was, “And it came to pass…” In the case of the oxen, that’s both literal and conceptual.
The key to life is to enjoy the good times and learn to grow during those not so good times. Manure times in life may take us to depths within ourselves we didn’t know existed. When you’re at the end of the rope, you will find God lives there. Manure grows the grass the oxen eats to produce, you guessed it, milk! Yes, manure happens but you're alive.
Have you noticed once every four to six weeks I write an article of hope, encouragement or giving perspective like this article? Do you know why this is? Because every six weeks comes a whole new group of people going through manure times in their lives. They weren’t my audience then but now they are. And many of the people six weeks ago experiencing manure times have passed through those times. Excrement as well as milk times are the one thing we all have in common.
Jesus calmed the storms in the outside of us and He can calm the storms on the inside of us too.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com