I don’t know anything about animals. The only pet we’ve had at our house for more than a week was a praying mantis. So when I read that the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem had never been ridden, I didn’t think much of it. But then I read that Jesus riding an unbroken donkey was a demonstration of what happens when God’s kingdom comes to earth.
I decided I needed some more information, so I called my friend Jeremy Zackowski. (Our son calls him Cowboy.) I figured Cowboy would know what it would be like to ride a donkey that has never been ridden. Cowboy told me that Jesus doing this was certainly a miracle. Cowboy has ridden animals that have never been ridden before, and he says they either get stubborn and don’t budge, or they buck and cause a ruckus.
In Matthew’s telling of the story (Matthew 21:1–11), we learn that the donkey’s mother was there, too. I asked Cowboy if that would make the story any less significant or miraculous. He explained that if the colt was still with its mother, then it probably had not been weaned yet. That means the mother would have been the one causing a ruckus.
I started to think. When we become followers of Jesus—when we are willing to go where He goes and do what He asks—we are like the unbroken donkey. We’re scared; we shake; we have no idea what is ahead of us. We aren’t sure about this person who’s leading us. Some of us are tempted to buck and cause a ruckus, and others decide to just be stubborn and not move—it just depends on the donkey, as Cowboy would say.
I often hesitate in following God’s lead as I become aware of all of my imperfections and weaknesses. Yet the more I rest in Christ and trust His lead, I find that He actually uses my imperfections and weaknesses for His glory. There is no condemnation in Him (Romans 8:1).
Donald Miller, in his new book, Scary Close, says it like this: “God is going to reveal me as a flawed human being as fast as He can, and He’s going to enjoy it, because it will force me to grapple with real intimacy.”
Dr. Brené Brown, who researches the impact of shame and vulnerability on our lives and relationships, says, “There’s nothing more daring than showing up, putting ourselves out there, and letting ourselves be seen.”
The apostle Paul said this:
So I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
2 Corinthians 12:7–10 msg
I think we do ourselves and the church a disservice when we pretend that—well, when we pretend anything, really. But I especially think it’s a disservice when we pretend that following Jesus and having faith doesn’t require strength. It’s not easy. It takes strength to lay our fears, insecurities, and weaknesses aside every day.
Like the donkey, we must be willing to surrender to the One who leads us, who encourages us to put ourselves out there. We must be willing to give up what we think for what God thinks and go where He desires us to go. We must be willing to open our eyes to God’s new thing for our life, to what Jesus is offering to us. It might not be what we want, but it is always what we need.
Written By Carey Morford
Photo by Anastasia Fomina