When God created animals, the donkey got the short end of the stick. The bunny was designed to be unabashedly cute and the guaranteed first stop at a first grade field trip to the petting zoo. God fashioned the horse with a sleek and powerful body to represent His own breathtaking majesty. The donkey must have come late to the party, after all the best prizes had already been taken. He stood before the Father, ready to have greatness bestowed upon him.
Donkey, you get to be stubbornness personified.
Donkey must have left that party feeling like a broken piñata, beaten with a stick by a scary mob of sugar-laden children. Thousands of years later, the melancholy Eeyore came on the scene and put the final nail in Donkey’s public image coffin.
All is not lost, however. God gave us donkeys to help us understand when our child first has a public temper tantrum in a parking lot. Oh, this is stubbornness, we think, as our child becomes one with the pavement. Pulling him and our egos out of the wads of gum and crumpled candy wrappers, we begin to wonder if we are fully equipped to handle this strange, new animal known as a “toddler.”
God also used a donkey to teach a lesson to Balak, the king of ancient Moab, who tried to persuade the diviner Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balak accomplished this the mature way, by pestering the unwilling Balaam like a relentless salesman until he was driven to the point of insanity. Balaam “saddled up his ass” (which does sound like a modern expression for “hit the road”) and set off on his mission.
God was displeased with Balaam, and He sent an Angel of the Lord to block the way with a sword. The donkey kept trying to avoid the angel by pushing up against the wall, so Balaam rewarded him with beatings. Any other animal would have relented and curled up to take a nap, but not a stubborn donkey.
To get Balaam’s attention, God had the donkey speak. And Balaam argued with the animal as if this was a perfectly normal occurrence. As though every day began with a rousing conversation with his chair or the doorknob. Donkey was not happy with the abuse.
Hey! This is how you treat me after I’ve been lugging you around for all these years? You’re treating me like a I’m some jackass…
Uh, you ARE a jackass…
And the argument continued until God opened Balaam’s eyes and he saw the foolishness of his ways. The moral of this story is: Do not bother arguing with a donkey, or another stubborn creature such as a small child, for you will never win.
Last week my seven-year-old daughter demonstrated that stubbornness is not just for toddlers anymore. Having misplaced her beloved pink headband, she insisted that I had it.
“Mommy, I know you have it. I saw you take it when you left my room last night.”
“No, you have it,” I responded. “I’m positive that I left it on your desk.”
This same conversation continued throughout the day, and I couldn’t believe how obstinate she was being. I knew with all certainty that I was right, and I could not be persuaded otherwise. Until God opened my eyes and I saw the foolishness of my ways.
I returned to my office and saw a glimmer of pink peeking out from a pile of papers on my desk. It was either the headband or the interior of a mouse’s ear, but I wasn’t sure which one was more frightening.
The headband spoke.
“So, I hope you like the taste of crow, since that’s what you’ll be eating tonight.”
I argued with it.
“Come on, we all know this was a set-up.”
But in the end, of course, I returned the headband and apologized to my daughter.
Could it be that we are all stubborn in our own way, and maybe I shouldn’t feel so sorry for the donkey? After all, who had the honor of carrying Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem? It wasn’t a bunny or a horse.
See, your king comes to you…gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Redemption, for the donkey within us all.