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