Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Importance of Mucking Out the Stalls


The photo today might be a little bit shocking, but bear with me. Yes, the contents of the wheelbarrow are exactly what you think. Manure. It's a part of my daily routine. 

When the temperatures are low or the weather is stormy, my horses go into the barn for their evening meal and to sleep overnight. The next morning, they have breakfast and go outside again, where fresh water, grass, and hay await them. 

My job is to prepare the stalls in which they reside. Every day, I fill the racks with fresh hay and the water buckets with fresh water. I also scoop out the waste from the night before. Part of that waste is hay that's been trodden underfoot. Part of it is the droppings they've left behind. 

There's something oddly appealing about the job of "mucking out" the stalls. I take great pleasure in a clean stall that, moments before, was filled with the stench of waste.The work results in clean stalls in which my horses will be more comfortable. It makes a safer environment for them because the bacteria-laden manure is not left as a breeding place for disease. 

When the wheelbarrow is full, I roll it to a hole that needs to be filled, and dump it. Nothing is wasted. In a year or two, the manure and hay will degrade into composted soil that will make a happy home for grass or flowers. 

I pray as I scoop out the waste. Earlier this week, I had a conversation with the Lord that went a little like this:

"Whew. Calli sure was busy last night, Lord. There's a mountain of pooh in here. I could smell it when I walked in the barn."

I scooped for a bit, then something occurred to me. "Lord, I hope my sin doesn't seem as unattractive to You as this stall is to me."

That Still, Small Voice didn't hesitate for a moment. It wasn't an out-loud voice, but in my heart, I knew. "It's much worse."

I leaned on my scoop and pondered that for a while. The stench of sin rises up to the Lord, just as our offerings of praise and love rise up. Our prayers are a sweet smelling incense to Him. Our sin is not. It's offensive and foul. 

Our job as disciples is to muck out the stalls of our hearts every day and remove the droppings of sin and our encounters with the world. When we do, we present a sweet-smelling home in our hearts for our Lord to reside. When we don't, we risk the disease of sin breeding in our hearts and minds. We also leave an odor that's unpleasant to the Lover of our souls. 

Today, let's take a closer look at our hearts. Is there anything there that needs to be "mucked out?" If so, let's do the work of repentance until it's done so that we can present our Lord a heart that's beautifully cleansed. Done daily, the job is repentance is quick work, so let us not delay. 

"Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you." Romans 8:8,9 BSB

"And the smoke of he incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand." Revelation 8:4 nasb
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Footprints in the Snow