Sometimes Life Can Stink

My husband and I went to visit a couple in the church recently. They live less than a mile from us, but their view and perspective is quite different from ours. Their lovely old farm house sits atop a beautiful hill. There is a quaint white fence around the home place, and the surrounding grasses are all a vibrant green. The fields seem to shout that the earth is coming alive again! As we pulled into the curvy gravel lane, we crossed over a low-water bridge and started up the hill. In the fields, there were dozens of cows grazing. It was a picture-perfect day.

As we got closer to the house, a couple of young cows came closer to our car. But, what caught my attention wasn’t so idyllic. On the sides, the legs and the back side of these black beauties was a matted glob of goo. Well, ‘poo’ to be exact! And, they were just as nonchalant as they could be about it. Amazed at the reality of this all-to-common sight, I giggled and told my husband, “Boy, am I glad we don’t have to live life with ‘poo’ stuck all over us every day!” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, we both turned and smiled at each other and said, “Or, maybe we do!”

Yes, the reality of ministry is that we get close to or step into some ugly situations from time to time. The stench that comes from sin and the ugliness that can rear its head in the church family and community are not unlike what is so common on the farm. And, then there is the matter of our own sin. That’s not a pretty sight either. No matter what the source, poo stinks!

Now, maybe you don’t live near anyone that has cows or ‘cow pies’ hanging around their yard, but you’ve likely taken a misstep that landed your foot in some doggy ‘doo doo’ at least once in your life. Right? Or, maybe you realized, too late, that the bird that just flew over left a little present on your head. Cleaning ‘waste’ from our windshields, our hair or our shoes is no one’s favorite thing to do, and yet we all face those moments in life when the aroma that is swirling around us is anything but lovely. 

Sometimes we use humor to deal with the stink around us with silly sayings like -

If the grass is greener on the other side, there’s probably more manure there. 
Caution! Horses on board, and their manure flies backward.

But, sometimes we allow a stinky aroma to pervade our hearts and minds, and we walk around like the cattle with ‘poo goo’ on their back sides. Our spiritual senses are numb, and we become oblivious to the stench that follows us and influences our attitude and outlook on life. We hear the enemy whisper to us that we’d be happier if only - 

  • Our family didn’t live so far away.
  • We had a bigger paycheck.
  • Our husband pastored the church in _________ (fill in the blank).
  • We had a nicer car.
  • Someone would offer free babysitting from time to time.
  • Our home was bigger, better and newer. Or, better yet, we’d be featured on a reality show complete with a free home makeover!

Our tendency to compare is real. We want more. Bigger, better, newer! The greener grass syndrome is so easy to get sucked into. describes the process in this way, “People are never satisfied with their own situation; they always think others have it better.” Why is that? When we get caught up in the lies of comparison, we focus on the negatives in our “yard,” and yet we focus on the positives in our neighbor’s green space. Pretty crazy, huh? The enemy loves for us to compare ourselves with anything other than Christ and what He has already given us, because sooner or later we are going to see something that's tempting. It’s no different than what Eve did in the Garden when she started looking past the whole garden of trees God had blessed her and her sweetheart with. Instead, she focused on the one tree that wasn't in her best interests - the one tree that would ultimately bring death to her and Adam. 

So, rather than focusing on the grass on the other side of the fence, we need to learn to live closer to the quote on this bumper sticker - The grass is greenest where it is watered. 

Paul teaches this principle as well in Philippians 4:11b-13 when he said "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

So, are you content today? If so, take an extra moment to thank God for His grace and provision in your life. If not, what is eating at you? Where is the enemy whispering into your life that what God has for you is not enough? Where is your focus? Have any rotten attitudes rubbed off on you?

In the days before us, may we each carry a pleasing aroma as we live our witness for Christ – at home, at work and in our churches. May God bless you with a clear focus on your grass and give you the strength to water it faithfully each day. May you not focus on the things of life that might stink around you, but embrace the breath of ‘fresh air’ that God can breathe into your heart and mind as you focus on Him.

After all, no one wants to walk around with ‘poo goo’ stuck to you!

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.” 2 Corinthians 2:15-16a


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