“What do you want from life?”
Everyone answers that question differently. What I mean is this. Everyone wants to be happy. There are things we want to accomplish. We want financial security. We want to be in relationships with other people. But we’re all unique, so we all want these different things in different proportions.
Proverbs 14:4 goes like this:
“If there are no oxen the crib is clean, /
But a rich harvest comes through the strength of the ox.”
We Americans have to pause a moment to decode it, because so few of us are involved in farming. The point, however, is clear: the things we want most generally can’t be had by themselves. They come when we do other things that move us toward our real goals.
A farmer wants a rich harvest. He couldn’t care less about oxen. But a rich harvest isn’t something you can just have. It takes a lot of plowing, and for that you need an ox. And oxen need to be fed. If you don’t have an ox, you won’t need to feed it or clean out its stable, but you can forget about having a rich harvest.
The best things in life often require us to work on other things we might not care as much about.
You can’t go into a store and pick up a box of relationships. Relationships are things you build. Like a farmer cleaning his ox’s crib, you have to do things that aren’t really goals in themselves. I’ve never known a man who bought his wife roses on Valentine’s Day because he was looking forward to enjoying their pretty scent. We don’t go to our kids’ soccer games because we’re looking forward to World Cup-level play. We pursue those things in order to have better relationships, which is what we really want.
Even God does this. The Bible says God wants to be in a relationship with us. But God couldn’t have that, because we’d been separated from God by sin. So God sent Jesus to break down that barrier. God did what it took to get what he wanted.
What do you want? Are they things you can you get by themselves? Or do you need to do other things first? And are you willing to take those steps to get them? “A rich harvest takes the strength of an ox.”
(This article is trivially adapted from the article that appeared July 28, 2010 in the Hi-Desert Star.)