Friday, November 19, 2010

Why "My Messy Manger?"

You may be wondering why I chose such an unusual title for this blog, and an even more unusual Bible verse for my tagline:

"Where there are no oxen the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox."  Proverbs 14:4

No, I'm not an ox farmer.

I was inspired by Mark Chanski's amazing book, Womanly Dominion: More Than A Gentle and Quiet Spirit.  In the chapter "Womanly Dominion in Child Rearing--Part 1," Chanski uses the principle behind this verse to encourage Godly mothers to accept a certain degree of upheaval in their homes during the season of their lives that they are raising children.

He contrasts an immaculate but unproductive barn with a soiled but profitable barn.  This is an easy concept for anyone who has ever been in a barn to understand.  If there are animals in it, it's not only going to be messy, it's also going to require a lot of work.  He puts it this way:
Step into the "ox-inhabited" barn.  Whew!  The manure, urine, hay, mud, and flies make it anything but fresh and sweet in here.  Here comes Farmer Elimelech with a shovel over his shoulder to clean up the mess.  He's late this morning.  He was up at two a.m. to help deliver an ox calf.  It's a huge task to feed, house, and look after these enormous beasts.  Why does he put up with all the grief, messiness, and aggravation? ... These mighty plodders knife open the soil, enabling the nestling of the seed in rows, resulting in the eventual swaying of wheat and barley, the overflowing of barns, the rolling of full wagons to the marketplace, the piling of the kitchen table high with bounty, and the providing of riches for one's family and heritage.   
Sure, the barn is not very tidy, immaculate, or fresh smelling, but the yield, the increase makes it a far better barn than the first. 
Later, he contrasts the immaculate but unproductive house with a soiled but profitable home.  This is the part that inspires me anew every time I read it:
But if a mother is bent on raising up mighty children, capable children, bold, brave, daring, adventuresome, God-fearing, dominion-minded children, then she needs to "kiss goodbye" any aspirations of immaculate tranquility.  Oxen who go out and turn the soil over, and children who go out and turn the world upside down, make messes.  But the woman of dominion is willing to pay the price of domestic upheaval for the prospects of kingdom profit.
Now, lest I think that I can neglect my home under the excuse of raising Godly, messy oxen, Chanski reminds me:
Now, remember Kidner's important qualification: "This proverb is not a plea for slovenliness."  A woman of dominion will strive to maintain an orderly household.  An overgrown yard, ransacked rooms, and a sink stacked high with dirty dishes do not glorify the God who loves things being "done properly and in an orderly manner" (1 Corinthians 14:40; also numerous Proverbs). 
This blog is a chronicle of my family's adventures as I strive to raise "children who go out and turn the world upside down," while at the same time glorifying God in the often mundane details of keeping my home orderly.  This is NOT a how-to guide, because I am LEARNING.

Please, come settle in at the table with me over some mugs of strong coffee and learn along with me.

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading this now. I a little defensive of frump girl though. lol