Are You Salty?
There was no chance of taming the wild stallion, but undiscouraged, I hung onto the saddle and prayed my scrawny little arms wouldn’t fail me now! The saddle was a folded paper grocery bag and the bucking horse was the baby blue ice cream maker being propelled across our front porch by whoever had energy to turn the hand-crank. My job was to add some stability and resistance to the runaway steed but realistically, what could 50 lbs. of giggle actually accomplish? Every so often the cranker would get tired and pause to add more salt to the ice inside the bucket. Salt helped the ice melt and freeze the milk mixture into ice cream faster.
Salt’s a funny thing. We’re told to monitor it and minimize it in our diet, yet some people don’t have enough and must take salt pills! Tears are salty, but if sweat (which is also salty) drips down into your eyes, it burns.
On the farm, when we put up hay in the barn that was a little bit green, we’d sprinkle salt on top to cure it and when the sheep or cows got that hay, they appreciated the extra seasoning! Mom recalls her dad buying 25 pound bags of salt and scooping some out on a rock for the sheep which would eagerly gather around and “fuss about it all”.
Later the industry made salt blocks, which a couple years ago I thought was going to be our demise. My daughter’s college art professor thought it a good idea to have students carve organic shapes into blocks of salt. Imagine a whole heard of young people carrying their 50 pound salt blocks to and from class! Over the next month, there was neither a family member, friend, nor enemy who happened to stop by that didn’t take a stab at carving that block of salt. We tried files, grinders, and chisels-- and when we toted the evil mass to New Jersey, a circular saw was implemented. At one point someone suggested throwing hot water on it to no avail. One fateful day, university administrators in dark suits, like the Men-In-Black walking in front of a Hollywood fog machine, strolled through the fourth floor hallway which was now filled with a salt cloud. Peering cautiously into the studio classrooms, they witnessed students all gnawing away with artistic abandon. Salt covered the tables, carpeted the floors, and thickened the air…and by the Grace of God, the assignment was halted immediately. Good thing too, because while we all attempted to stay within the bounds of Alex’s vision of an upside down water drop (or tear drop as the struggle wore on), the block of salt on turn-in day looked pretty much like a salt block with the corners knocked off.
Salt is mentioned over 40 times in the Bible, and possibly the most well-known reference is Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of it when she disobeyed God’s instructions and longingly looked back at her old life (Genesis 19:26). It might be tempting in 2020 during these “unprecedented times” to look wistfully toward distractions, but Matthew 5:13-14 is a good reminder to stay the course: Be salt and light. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under the foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid”
I’m encouraged that while we are riding atop this wild stallion of political and social unrest, Colossians 4:6 helps us hang on, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” We have to ask ourselves: Am I salty --but in a Godly way?
Saddle The Donkey!
What do donkeys and Queen Anne’s Lace have in common? They both are actually common.
Donkeys, with their big fuzzy ears and sweet soulful eyes, are the most frequently mentioned animal in the Bible. During ancient times they were always working behind the scenes and sometimes a major prop in the story line.
I love the beginning line of I Samuel 25:20 where brave and beautiful Abigail takes bold action to prevent her people from getting slaughtered: “As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine…”
And proving that pride actually does come before a fall, the spotlight is on King Nebuchadnezzar. He built the hanging Gardens of Babylon to make his wife happy and while it earned them a spot on the seven wonders of the ancient world list, he failed to give God credit for his success. Because he took personal credit for his wealth and war victories there was a drastic scene change. He was reduced to an animal eating grass and lived with the wild donkeys until he recognized God‘s sovereignty. (Daniel 5:21) God utilized donkeys to help teach King Neb humility.
Jesus used a donkey to ride into town on Palm Sunday. Imagine the creator of the universe having access to any majestic war horse or thoroughbred and choosing a lowly donkey. Sea Biscuit or Eeyore? Which would you choose? Jesus chose a donkey to make his grand entrance probably because it fulfilled ancient prophecy and was often the Hebrew symbol for kingship. When someone arrived on a donkey instead of a war horse it meant they came in peace, and He did.
A phrase in scripture that stirs a definitive call to action is “Saddle the donkey”. To you NASCAR fans, it’s the ancient Hebrew equivalent of “ Start your engines!“ I recently ran across first Kings 13 in which a wise prophet pursues truth and twice told his sons to “Saddle the donkey“ (vs. 13 & 27) before he set out on his quest.
Ever obedient and trusting Abraham, in taking the first step to obey God‘s command and sacrifice Isaac, rose early and “saddled his donkey“ (Genesis 23:3)
Donkeys in these stories can be beasts of burden or take center stage as they point us towards action and obedience. So why did I mention Queen Anne’s Lace earlier? It’s growing everywhere right now along roads and in fields and it’s one of my favorite flowers, a common weed named after the lace of a queen. My sister and I used to pick it and put the stems in Tupperware cups of colored water we placed on our windowsill in mom’s cozy kitchen. After a day or so the white blossoms would magically change to the color of the water...red, yellow, blue, and green. I was enchanted and entertained then but now a deeper lesson emerges. We, like the common Queen Anne’s Lace, begin to look like what nourishes us. I begin to ask myself, what feeds me daily? What is my soul-food? If what I’m absorbing isn’t Godly, I need to take that first step in obedience like Abigail, Abraham, the truth-seeking prophet, and Jesus and figuratively “saddle the donkey!”
Janet Cowger- Fliegel