Sunday, April 9, 2017

Stubborn Donkey

On Palm Sunday the Christian world celebrates a donkey. Well, we don't exactly celebrate a donkey but a donkey is certainly discussed. The celebration is ultimately about Jesus, the true reason for every celebration. But on Palm Sunday a donkey plays a supporting role in Jesus' story.
The classic picture painted by the preacher in the pulpit one week before Easter is of a young, baby colt draped in cloth, entering into Jerusalem with Jesus riding on his back. We don't know much about the donkey but what we do know is quite telling. This particular donkey had never been ridden before. He was, shall we say, a newbie to the stable scene. He was also a donkey particularly chosen for the task of carrying Jesus. This wasn't a random, "sure I'll take that one" kind of donkey. This was a donkey set apart for this journey, hand picked and specifically chosen. Other than those few facts, we know little about the particular donkey that provided Jesus' transportation into Jerusalem.
The rest of what we know about this young donkey comes from knowledge of donkeys in general. So, what do we know? We know that donkeys aren't easily spooked and won't go running at every unfamiliar sound. They are smart and attune to danger even when it is far off in the distance.
But donkeys are known to be stubborn, a not-so-beneficial side effect of being un-spookable. Unlike most horses, the typical donkey can be kicked, pushed and pulled without budging. It take extensive training and an abundance of patience to teach a young donkey how to be an obedient provider of rides, willing to start and stop on command. Naturally, the donkey doesn't want to obey. He wants to stand still when confronted with a new stranger on his back.
But not Jesus' donkey.
In every account of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem He is riding on a donkey, not being pushed or pulled on a donkey. The donkey is moving willingly. The young, never-before-riden donkey is listening to the Lord's voice and following the gentle commands of Christ. There is no scriptural reference to Jesus kicking the donkey or yelling at the donkey to move its stubborn behind through the lush display of palm branches. Jesus didn't need man's force to rule the donkey. With His very presence and spirit, Jesus directed the donkey.
Jesus' command over the donkey is strikingly similar to the command He displayed earlier in His life over the waves of the sea and winds of the air. Jesus, in His infinite power, simply spoke words and the earth responded. He directed demons to depart and they had no choice but to flee. Over and over again Jesus proved that He was able to do the unimaginable, the humanly impossible and the absolutely incredible.
The power of God to still the storms and move the stubborn donkey is still as real and present today as it was on the first Palm Sunday in Jerusalem. Jesus can make mountains move and animals obey. So who is to say He isn't able to come into my stubborn circumstances - the disease I can't beat, the sorrow I can't shake, the trials I can't escape - and make the barriers to victory move? Can the God who made the donkey move, walk and obey speak into the nerves of my brain, the bones in my body and the muscles in my flesh and command them to bow down to His voice?
The lesson of the donkey is that God is able to overcome that which is stuck in our lives. He is able to break the chains of stubborn situations that feel utterly hopeless. God can make the mountains of trials move. He can command the winds of tribulation to cease. God is able. He was able with Jesus' donkey and He is able with the donkeys in our lives today.

My donkey is my health. This disease, handpicked by God specifically for me, is the most stubborn donkey I have ever come in contact with. And I can not make it move. I've tried. Oh, how I've tried but this donkey won't budge. I have kicked, screamed and yanked this donkey with every fiber of my being and ounce of strength in bones and the donkey hasn't even grunted.
It is one powerfully stubborn and obstinate donkey.
But God can make my donkey move. He can command the disease that has overtaken my body to flee in His presence. He won't need force and He might not even use a whip. With the power of His Holy Spirit and the might of His will, God can make this donkey move.
So I won't waste my energy kicking and I won't lose patience waiting. When it is right, when God so desires, He will break the chains of my stubborn donkey and release my body from this disease.
In God's time and by His power, God will speak to this donkey and tell it to move.

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