Have you ever tried to direct a donkey? Have you tried to move him somewhere he doesn’t want to go? Many of you know Matthew, the donkey who has been with us for many years. In fact, he came to Christian Way Farm during the Easter season several years ago. Our family was helping our church with an Easter play. Milt (believe it or not) had a non-speaking part (that part is believable) as a disciple. The farm didn’t have many animals and I wanted a mini-donkey. One afternoon Milt and Craig disappeared. They didn’t tell me where they were going and they were gone all afternoon. Members of the cast were supposed to be at the church and Milt and Craig had not arrived. People were calling me to see where they were. Soon they came rolling into the church parking lot—in the farm truck with a trailer in tow. Out of the trailer came the sound—a bray of a most unhappy donkey! The guys had picked him up on a farm south of Clarksville and he was ready to come out of the trailer.
It wasn’t till after the play that evening that I met Matthew. (He ended up being named for the disciple Milt was portraying in the Easter play). He was a sweet animal, but he definitely wasn’t a mini….but Milt brought him home anyway.
In Matthew’s early years he was much more rambunctious than he is now. That was probably 17 or 18 years ago and we think he was 4 or 5 years old when we got him. But Matthew has always dominated his pasture. We often have to keep him separate from the other young animals because he bites and kicks to get his way.
I remember one such occasion that Matthew wasn’t conducting himself well and we needed to put him in a barn stall. Craig was probably about 11 or 12 years old at the time and we had a young friend here who was about 13 or 14. The two boys were tasked with leading Matthew to the barn and putting him in the stall. They had been gone a while and I went to check on them. Here they were—inside the barn stall and Matthew was outside. There was a board on the ground across the entrance about 5 inches tall. The boys were inside pulling on the rope around Matthew’s neck and Matthew wasn’t budging. He had his front hooves wedged against that board and he was pulling back as hard as the boys were pulling forward. It was a definite tug-of war and Matthew was winning—he wasn’t going into that stall.
As I walked up on this scene I happened to notice a potato fork hanging inside the barn. It seemed like the perfect option. I certainly didn’t want to get near Matthew’s backside as I had seen him kick. But quickly I grabbed the potato fork and assisted Matthew in his decision to enter the barn stall. I took the potato fork (which isn’t as sharp as a pitchfork for those concerned about his well-being) and jabbed Matthew in the backside. Immediately Matthew entered the barn stall! The boys didn’t know what happened but suddenly found the donkey in the stall with them. The quickly exited and shut the door behind them.
This morning I was reading one of my favorite passages: Psalm 32. As Milt and I navigate the waters of a temporarily closed business, it’s not easy to consider what we have in front of us. The government is dangling some options for economic help in front of us but we aren’t clear about what is the best solution for us. This verse gives me great solace as I realize I will get the guidance I need if I listen to the Lord: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” This has been one of my favorite verses and often guided me in the years I was a homeschooling Mom.
But today the next verses, spoke to me about our world’s current situation: “Do not be like the horse or the mule (or donkey), which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him.”
Immediately the story of Matthew came to mind. Trying to get that stubborn donkey into a place of safe-keeping and it took a painful experience for him to get him where he needed to be. My thought this morning is whether I am listening carefully to the Lord or whether I am stubbornly refusing to go where God wants me to go for my good and His glory. Does He have the potato fork poised, ready to aim at my backside if I don’t go where He is leading? Or maybe like the Scripture, I am being led by a bit and bridle, but again those work because the pain the mouth of the animal is what causes him to move.
Today, I pray we each are examining where we are –are we listening for what the Lord has for us during this down time or are we so busy being frustrated and fearful that we aren’t listening to the Lord for His guidance, correction and peace. Or maybe we don’t even know God and the peace that He gives. If you find yourself without hope or without answers, just ask God for His wisdom. Ask us. We are glad to share His Good News with you so that when all get to the other side of Covid-19 this can be the song on our lips:
“Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing all you who are upright in heart.”
Righteousness and uprightness comes from our relationship with the Lord. I pray that you will start a new relationship with Him or strengthen the one you already have.
Pray with us that we will all walk through to the other side of this pandemic time and become kinder, wiser and closer to Jesus.
We love and miss you and can’t wait to see you!
Janie and Milt