I brushed a plastic dinosaur’s teeth last night—with an electric toothbrush. I woke up to Captain America heroically leaping into my REM cycle at 5:17am. I’ve braided Barbie’s hair, patched up skinned knees, wiped a few tears, sorted through some laundry with an unfortunate case of SKD (shredded Kleenex disaster), and spent twenty-five ridiculous minutes looking for the beloved stuffed member of our family. Lovey.

No doubt parenthood (and life in general) is a messy, full-contact sport. But this verse, y’all. It slays me.

Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. (Proverbs 14:4)

You might be thinking: Really? What do livestock and stables have anything to do with my everyday life?

Without cattle the barn stays fresh. Without children the house stays clean. Without marriage our hearts stay unrattled. Without friendship our opinion stays on top. Without community our capacity stays unchallenged. Without creativity our dreams stay locked up.

But embracing the mess is a big part of the blessing, and there is no blessing without the mess. Even the Promised Land—full of milk and honey—had upkeep. Because you can’t have milk and honey without dealing with cows and bees.

Do you think farmers like to play in the dirt for fun? Of course not. Their zoomed-in focus is on the unseen harvest that is to come. Just like them, we must look past the immediate grime and fix our eyes on what will grow if we keep on and keep planting.

There is no harvest where there is no dirt.  

And dirt, after all, is what God used for the framework of mankind.

So what do you think He sees when He gazes at His creation? If you haven’t noticed, we are a wiry and busted-up mess who want to be entertained more than we long to be holy. We’re sinful and needy, self-absorbed and sidetracked.

But when He looks at us, He sees us through the cross of Jesus—the debt already paid-in-full on our behalf. When He looks at us, He sees past the muck and disarray, and instead sees abundant orchards and vineyards. When He looks at us, He sees His kids—who are His absolute greatest harvest.

How dirty was He willing to get? He didn’t hesitate to sink down low into our filth, leaving heaven to come wash the crusty mud from our hearts. Though innocent, He allowed them—us, really—to break Him for short time, as He was completely wrung out because of His dangerous and unfair love.

But the story didn’t stop there, and neither should we.

Because harvest time is coming.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)