beautiful animal; graceful, intelligent, and loyal: and then we work
them to death! Donkeys, obstinate, stupid, and unreliable, live to a
ripe, old, age. How does this work?
Like people, horses tend to be proud. Most "horse people" will tell
you that a horse likes to have the "upper hand (hoof?)" or the last word
with other horses and even with people. Maybe even a bit vain in the way
they carry themselves. Intelligence is a matter of definition, but their
sense of loyalty, as horses, is exactly what kills them. They struggle
to please their handlers, and will actually die trying.
Donkeys, on the other hand don't seem to have all that much pride.
They seem like they're really more about just wanting to have a peaceful
life than getting into all the "one-up-man-ship" and show. Intelligence,
again, is an open question, but is an animal that is willing to pull a
plow all day what we would call "unreliable?" The difference is that an
ass knows its limits, and stops when she gets there.
We might say that each of them knows its owner, but the mule knows its
Master. A lot has been written and preached about donkeys in the Bible,
but it could just be that Jesus chose a donkey for His famous entry
because He could trust it. Some time before, a man named Balaam was a
crooked preacher who tried to ride his donkey somewhere he had no
business going, and the Lord enabled the animal to speak, to straighten
the old boy out. An ass has its limits.
So what, you say? In a lot of ways we try to be like horses (which
we've bred to be like us!). We like to hold up our heads, and be
recognised for being so good looking, or graceful, skilled, intelligent,
loyal, or hard-working; but recognised by who? Pleasing just one
person's expectations can be murderous, pleasing several can inflict
some real pain, but meeting our own standards can be the worst of all. A
man might put in long hours on the job, trying ever harder to gain a
promotion, or to meet an unrealistic project deadline, or his wife might
struggle to keep her children happy, or keep up with any number of
demands from any number of different sources. Each in his or her own
way, like the horse who pulls and performs right to its dying breath.
What if we were all like the donkey in the story? While the horse
strives to match the standards of other horses, or its handlers, or the
spectators, the donkey seems to remember that the Maker of the Donkeys
has the best idea of what a donkey is supposed to be. So donkeys may not
get to wear shiny tack, and get traded for big dollars, but the donkey
is still enjoying the sunshine when the horse is just a memory, and with
maybe some dusty ribbons left behind in the barn. Is this against hard
work and achievement? By no means! The donkey might actually work
harder, and get more done, than the horse, but it's the donkey that
gives us a picture of wisdom in living to please its Maker first, and
anyone else because of Him!
For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die
unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.
[Romans 14:8 (KJV )]