When I was in college, working on my undergraduate degree, I had a class in swine production.
I know, I know … sounds just like what you’d expect a guy who would end up as a pastor would study, right?
My path to full-time vocational ministry was not the one of least resistance.
A few times that semester, we got to visit a pig farm and see the whole production. We’d help with the newborn pigs, watch a feeding time, see how research was conducted (on the research farm on campus), and meet with various workers. It was fascinating.
And made your clothes smell horrible.
There was no faking that you’d been to the pig farm. You had to change clothes and shower before your next class … every time.
One thing that stuck with me from that class was the way that nothing was wasted on the farm. Not even the pigs’ poop.
The poop was piled in a barn, and over the course of a year the poop would compost, leaving a rich fertilizer that the farmers would use to fertilize the fields that other animals would graze. It was an incredible additive and boost to those fields, giving yields that greatly surpassed the nonfertilized fields. In other words, the poop made the crops grow faster.
Pig poop, though foul smelling to us humans, contains nutrients that help crops grow really well. After it was harvested and composted (by which time it didn’t stink anymore), it was simply spread across the field in the spring, just before a rain, its nutrients used by the budding crops.
The poop from your past.
You’ve got poop in your life. Things you’ve done that you’re not proud of. Things that have been done to you that you wish hadn’t happened. Dreams that you lost, relationships that crumbled. Jobs lost. Marriages destroyed. Addictions that you’re ashamed of. You’ve messed up in a way that you’d hope and pray nobody would ever mess up.
You’ve done things … or not done things … that you never want to repeat.
We typically do one of two things with that pain and suffering:
- Ignore it and act like it never happened.
- Wallow in it.
Neither is healthy.
Option 1 leaves us judgmental of others who have real pain, ignorant of our own Pharisaical stench. We’re left with a shallow understanding of our sin and pain … and thus a shallow understanding of God’s goodness and grace. Acting like “poop” never happened wastes our pain.