A Scared Little Donkey and Me

John 12:15 says “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” In Luke 19:30, it describes how Jesus sent his disciples to find this young donkey. “Luke 19:30 New International Version (NIV)

30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.” Now, I’d like to focus on the part that says, ‘which no one has ever ridden.’ I’ve always had two thoughts about this. My first thought was that he could have chosen a more experienced donkey for this job. My second was that this por colt probably felt quite a bit of stage fright while he was giving his first human piggy back ride because the crowd got loud during their walk into Jerusalem. In Luke 19:37, it says that “the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.” Verse 38 tells us they were shouting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” That wasn’t quiet approval. They were getting rowdy with their praise.

So, as I read this, I wondered why Jesus bothered with an unridden colt. No one ever gave me a satisfactory answer. They explained and explained, and I understood their meaning. It had been prophesied. They had to follow the previous pattern of King David in order to fulfill scripture. Yes, yes. But why was the previous pattern set in place? Why did the God of the universe who could have done this any way he wanted choose an unprepared donkey for the monumental task of walking Jesus triumphantly into the temple area among shouts of praise? Today, I had a thought that finally touched that unreached spot that every other answer had not satisfied.

Jesus chose an unprepared colt to remind us that we don’t have to have it all figured out. We don’t have to be “ready” for ministry. We don’t need years of study in order to be useful for service to our King. Just like this colt, there’s something precious about someone humbly attempting to honor the King of heaven with whatever skills and talents they might have. In short, God likes our willing hearts, and He treasures your willingness much more than he does your abilities or knowledge.

So often, I have felt unqualified to fulfill the call of God on my life. I’ve looked at the pile of laundry in the corner of my bedroom, the tasteless plates of food I’ve prepared, the careless words that I’ve spoken, or the cruel behavior I’ve exhibited in a moment of anger, and I’ve said to myself, “I’m useless to God.” I’ve wondered how a person who is so unprepared for daily living might be usable to help anyone else with their struggles. I’m a mess. Right? So what can he do with me?

I like this Bible verse: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2Corinthians 12:9) In this verse, the awesome apostle Paul is telling us that he feels worthless and unusable, too. But rather than letting that stop him, he brags about how useless he is so that people can see that any good thing that he can accomplish is all God’s doing. And I believe him, because it happens in my life, too. I fail all the time. I’m just not good enough for the job I have to do.

I feel like that donkey must have felt. I imagine that donkey taking hesitant steps, backing up a time or two, and veering a little to the right or left when a random shout comes out of the crowd. And as I imagine this terrified creature, I think to myself that this donkey looks a lot like me. I make slow progress, and then I backtrack when someone says something negative about my efforts. I get spooked and turn aside from the path when I can’t seem to get it right. Then, when I’m exhausted and confused, but finally ready to accept His gentle guidance, I feel the pull of his reins, and I just follow. And it’s in those moments when I’ve come to the end of myself and I’m finally ready to submit to his leading that I hear the applause of the crowd. They’re not clapping for me, but rather for the one who is directing me. He gets the glory, and he alone deserves it.

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