We talk about how the ranch environment
offers opportunities that conventional church settings can't… we were
reminded of that the other day when I was cleaning out a water trough…leaves
fall, algae grows, livestock litters and the result is a build up of
muck on the bottom of these animal drinking containers that periodically
needs to be removed.
The task at hand is messy and smelly… you become coated with a greenish-grayish-blackish colored gunk that is not only ugly but it stinks to high heavens. "Eau de Phew" is an essence that will repel wives, children, friends and enemies… not to mention ticks, goats and skunks!
Not a task sought after by the faint of heart, but one that is necessary none the less. Popular? NO! Necessary? YES! Just like the work GOD has done and is doing in the world.
Martin Luther used the illustration that GOD was not like the medieval lords who sat in their castles while their serfs did all the dirty work. Rather, GOD is like the nobleman who went himself to clean out the barn.
I like that imagery… and this imagery reminds me of a couple of things…
One is that we "sheep" of the LORD keep dirtying up our "barns" and "water troughs." And just as our horses and donkeys can't clean up the mess they make in their troughs without my help, so I can't clean up the mess I make in my life without GOD's help.
Secondly, I am reminded that our GOD is "The Good Rancher" (paraphrased… "The Good Shepherd"… you know imagery) GOD is ready, willing and able to help us tidy up our littered lives.
From the beginning Christianity has spoken of "GOD with us." GOD is not a remote, aloof being somewhere off in the mansions of Heaven, with spotless robes and clean hands, enjoying the comforts of GOD-hood, totally removed from all the trials and tribulations, mess and misery of we lowly human creatures.
Instead HIS word says, "The WORD became flesh and dwelt among us." This bold proclamation that GOD cares enough about us to get right into our messy "troughs" with us, to get HIS hands dirty, if that is what it takes to get us out of the muck and the mire we have made.
Now, some people have always had problems with this idea of a GOD "with dirty hands." They can't imagine an earthy GOD, an Almighty Being who would be willing to get down on the same level with us messy, yucky humans. And why should they… when most of them won't get their hands dirty helping their fellow man.
"What's a nice GOD like YOU doing in a place like this? Why don't YOU stay in YOUR big, plush ranch house on Heaven Hill and leave all that dirty work out in YOUR green pastures to the hired hands?"
GOD's answer… "I had to come down here, the hired hands don't want to
get their hands dirty! So it seems I'll just do it myself!"
Thank YOU LORD that YOU love us so much that you won't wait for the "hired hands" to get it right… but rather YOU will do it YOURSELF. The fields are ripe but the laborers are few.
Well we're burning day light and there are a bunch of inner city kids coming this morning to experience a ranch… HIS ranch… and this is one worker who doesn't want to be found wasting time. To HIS honor and glory… I want to be found working for HIS kingdom. Amen? AMEN!
Serving HIM with you, Jim and Catherine