Single post

Manure and the Slumdog Millionaire

May 5th, 2009

Focus Text: Proverbs 14: 4 (NLT)

 4 Without oxen a stable stays clean,
      but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead 

Recently, my wife and I saw the Oscar-winning film, Slumdog Millionaire.  I have to say, it didn’t disappoint.  Set in the rancid slums of urban India, the film reveals a world that very much exists.  It’s a world in which children must fend for themselves on the streets and in the garbage dumps as violence and intolerant religious zeal dot the overpopulated landscape with hopelessness.  In the movie, the main character, Jamal, is one of the thousands of children who grew up hard in these conditions.

Jamal finds himself being violently interrogated by a rough group of police officers.  They shock him with battery cables and punch him with hard blows to the face and body.  His crime?  Alleged cheating on the Indian version of the show, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.  Jamal has made it one question away from winning it all and the authorities are certain that a “slumdog” like himself would have no way of knowing the correct answers to these difficult questions.

What they don’t know, however, is his story.  Not to ruin the movie for you, but as Jamal begins to relay his amazing tale of loss, exploitation, and the search for his long lost love, the police begin to realize that he is no liar.  In fact, it is by some extraordinary twist of fate that his hardships have actually equipped him with the very knowledge he needs to answer the random questions that are being asked on the game show.

We often overlook the trouble in our lives for the treasure that it actually produces.  This is not an advocation of atrocity or a dismissal of evil; this is simply an acknowledgement that much like Jamal, our greatest moments of accomplishment will rise from the ashes of our greatest pain . . . if, that is, we choose to actually learn from our experiences.

This passage speaks similar truth: “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”  In other words, life would be much simpler without the trouble and effort of some hard work and difficult experiences.  Many in life long for “clean stables” . . . for no trouble and no need for effort.  There’s a lot less manure in this scenario.  However, there’s also a lot less gain from the work of the oxen.

With oxen comes manure . . . that’s the trade-off.  With worthwhile endeavors come challenges.  In my line of work, I call this “taking out the trash.”  You can and should dream, plan, and seek after the spectacular things conjured only in the mind of divinity.  But while you’re pursuing these things, the trash still has to go out.  The deadlines still have to be met.  The diapers still has to be changed.

But manure is no reason to avoid oxen.  Neither are trouble, challenges, or responsibility valid reasons to avoid significant pursuits in life.  Just like Jamal, there may be millions of opportunities in the slums of the manure of your trouble.  You just have to keep moving.  Keep living.  Keep looking for the treasure in the midst of the stable.

Remember what you don’t yet know: your whole story.  Your story of difficulty may just be the very divine narrative you need to answer life’s later questions and take hold of inconceivable value.





theme by teslathemes