When David and I bought a house 14 years ago, four people, one cat and one dog moved in. Today we live in a parsonage in Simpsonville, SC that houses two people and two cats; two empty bedrooms and only the memory of our furry dog – Frodo.
Life moves on… that’s why every time I read Proverbs 14, the 4th verse causes me to reflect on this truth:
“Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox.” (NKJV)
When my kids were part of the household, I remember bemoaning the work it required to keep “the trough clean!” Washing clothes, tidying the bathrooms, picking up toys, cooking and cleaning up afterwards were daily occurrences. There may have even been a time or two that I whined in my mind about taking care of my husband as well. J
Yes, taking care of a family is work, work, work. But when we consider the alternative – an empty house with no one but ourselves to clean up after – it will help change our attitude. Yes, life moves on. Our children grow up and our pets pass on; but while we have them with us, may we remember that an increase in work can also mean an increase in joy and purpose.
By all means, keep the trough clean, but do it with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. It will help turn drudgery to delight.
“When you obey me, you remain in my love… I have told you this so that… your joy will overflow.” ~ John 15:10-11 NLT
According to Jesus, there is a formula for joy: Joy = obedience + love, or to simplify: Joy is found in loving obedience. I discovered this truth today as I looked up scriptures that highlighted the example of Christ that his “followers” should follow. Jesus was always challenging us with choices that seem way out of our reach and this one definitely is a stretch. We all want to remain in the wonderful, comforting love of the Lord, but coupling it with obedience raises the difficulty factor.
So many times when we walk in obedience we find ourselves questioning the Father’s plan and struggling to embrace joy. Could it be that the elusive emotion is not joy, but happiness? Happiness comes and goes with the circumstances of our lives; but true joy abides and cannot be impacted by the situation we find ourselves in. Knowing that we are loved and held in the palm of the Father’s hand should cause joy to explode in our hearts, no matter where those (physical) hearts may currently be residing.
Dear Father, as I struggle to obey joyfully, please help me to never forget that your never-ending, perfect love is also written into the equation. YOU are love and when I am in You, joy will occur as naturally as the breath I breathe. Thank you for this truth. Please help me to remember it… Joyfully yours, Amen.