At the end of the 19th century, cities were faced with a health epidemic. Horses were the main source of transportation. While they were the fastest way to get around, their major downside was that they were not potty trained. A horse’s waste is the perfect play place for flies. Doctors and scientists had recently discovered the correlation between flies and transmittable diseases, and so they were now concerned with how to control the flies. Countless man hours and money were invested in finding out a way to chemically engineer the food horses ate, or to find an alternate source of food for the horses so that the flies were not longer attracted to their droppings. In the end, their research really didn’t matter the way they thought it would.
You see, right around the time they were really trying to solve the fly issue the automobile was invented. In just a few short years city roads went from a horse’s bathroom to the car’s domain. As the switch to automobiles became more common, horse droppings in the street decreased as well as the flies that were attracted to them leading to a healthier city.
I know this sounds like a really random story, and it is, but we have so much to learn from it. We can spend out entire lives trying to fix the problems that we’re faced with and miss the next opportunity completely. The funny thing is, our current conversations about climate change is centered around the use of fossil fuels (in large part because of the automobile industry). While I’m happy that there are people trying to figure out more fuel efficient cars, I’m more excited about the people who are trying hard to get us away from gas altogether.
In our own lives, we can spend all of our time and energy trying to address the problems we have. Or we can instigate a paradigm shift where we completely bypass the things that are causing those problems to begin with. The public secret of the Christian life is that we aren’t free from troubles. Our troubles just look different as a result of following Jesus. We all came to the realization that trying to do life on our own would get us nowhere (or more like lead us to H-E-double hockey sticks). Following Jesus is simple, but hard. We are supposed to love God and love others as God loved us. But how that plays out in our lives is rarely simple. So stop worrying about the horse poop. It’s there, it stinks, but there is a better solution just around the corner if only you can admit that there’s a better way.