How Much Manure?

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My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing… Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

(James 1:2-4, 17-18)

Down here in Texas, gardening is a nearly year-round affair.  Keeping the soil from becoming depleted is an important concern. The other day at a church potluck I overheard two people discussing the merits of manure – which kinds are best to use in the garden and when.  It needs to be applied in the right proportion and at the right times. Otherwise you run the risk of “burning” your crops by overwhelming them with manure. But everyone agrees that manure is beneficial and necessary for an abundant harvest.

In our scripture reading from James today, he tells us to consider the trials we face as “nothing but joy.” How can this be? Endurance, he says, helps you reach maturity. It also can wear you down. Is there a way to consider our trials as joys without being either internally or publicly schizophrenic?

There is, but the wisdom for doing this is found in knowing the right amount of crap to take in life and the right time to take it, and then having the wherewithal to be able to mix that crap into the rest of the dirt of our lives, thereby creating fertile soil for new growth. Too often we feel either hopelessly buried in crap or, conversely, we refuse to take any crap whatsoever. Both are spiritually unhealthy places to be. The key lies in allowing ourselves to be receptive to all life has to offer, that we might receive the new growth that lies in the hope of the Easter resurrection – which God gives not only to Jesus but to each of us as well.

-Rich Nelson

Spend five minutes in prayer asking for God’s wisdom and help in sorting through one pressing issue in your life. With Jesus, pray for this cup to pass from you and then with joy affirm “yet not what I want but what you want,” seeking a way to make peace with the outcome whatever it may be.


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