When Jesus was going to make his entrance into Jerusalem before his crucifixion, he had his disciples do an odd thing: he told them to go steal a donkey! Well, maybe “borrow” would be a nicer term. He told two of his disciples to go into a certain village and that they would see a donkey and it’s colt and to untie them and bring them to him. He told them if anyone asks what you’re doing just tell them I need them and they will understand.
Can you imagine if you were Jesus’ disciple and him asking you to go steal a donkey for him to ride on? I can imagine him saying, “Just act like you know what you’re doing and no one will say anything!” That’s the way I picture it in my mind. Anyway, this donkey’s colt that they “borrowed” is what he used to enter the city of Jerusalem where he would soon be crucified and pay the price for the sins of the entire world. As he rode into the city, the people worshipped him! This little jackass was quite literally a vehicle for worship.
This winter I got to take a short trip over to the coast with my family. My wife has a cousin who owns this amazing ranch in the hills near Half Moon Bay that is surrounded by lush green hills and meadows and a little creek that runs behind it and sometimes they let us stay there. In one of the meadows is a corral where they keep one horse and one donkey (I was told the horse is named Fire and the donkey is named Irma) that graze in the field together day in and day out. One thing we like to do while we are there is to call Fire and Irma over to the edge of the corral and give them a little pet on their giant noses and they seem to like it!
Last time we were there I noticed something. I looked into Irma’s eyes and I know this sounds a little weird, but I saw humility. I don’t know any other way to describe it, but I saw a look of gentle, quiet, meek, humility and it gave me kind of a good feeling as I stroked his giant nose and admired his giant ears (have you ever seen the ears on one of those things?) The feeling I got was something like peace. Donkeys can’t really help but be anything but humble.
Now, God has placed a unique calling on each one of us. The Bible makes it clear that we all have a unique purpose in the Kingdom of God and, sometimes, our unique calling doesn’t have the greatness that we think it should! When I was young, I had grand visions of being a touring musician- it was all I wanted. But instead, I got to be the errand boy for a church and an intern who got to track and mark down the attendance of a large college group and then send cards to those that hadn’t been there in three weeks. It was boring. I didn’t always get to lead worship or play music- sometimes I wasn’t allowed to do that at all, and to be honest, sometimes I was asked to do things that were a little demeaning and certainly didn’t measure up to the dreams I had in my head, and you know what? I still do.
I will get to my point here. God wants you to be the jack-ass (I just like saying that word!). Sometimes God just needs a donkey that is humble and quiet and meek and is willing to do things that seem to be beneath him. We all have visions of grandeur and we want to be the race-horse, or the war-horse, or at least the horse that gets to in the corral and look beautiful! Many times our path requires that we be ordinary and humble and do the things that just need to be done (not the rock-star).
What do you do that seems super-ordinary? Maybe your life doesn’t match the visions you have in your head. Maybe you are the one who gets to do the ordinary things. Maybe your ordinary thing is a vehicle for worship like Jesus’ jackass was. In your humble serving is greatness! Don’t forget this one truth: God uses the ordinary to proclaim his own greatness. It might not be what you imagine greatness to be, but it makes great the one who is to be the object of our worship, Jesus Christ!
“Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.” -1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (MSG)
“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” -Matthew 11:29-30 (NLT)