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IN THE CARPENTER’S WORKSHOP: The donkey’s dilemma

It was a long, hard journey to Bethlehem.  Unless you are a tiny Jerusalem donkey, and you have carried a very pregnant woman over 80 miles along the Sea of Galilee, then up the mountain to Bethlehem, you have no idea what I’m talking about.


We started in Nazareth, to which I thought we would soon return.  But no, we had to take a flying journey to Egypt.  Something about a king being angry that Jesus was born.

Now, I know that I’m not in the Bible at Christmas, even though I was there in the stable when the baby arrived, and the angels came to celebrate his new birth.  I think I look pretty good in that flight to Egypt statue, which must be proof to some that I was a part of that journey as well.  But some will never believe.

I would like to talk to you about giving.  Donkeys are known to be very stubborn.  I have to admit that I used to like my own way.  But I am an exception to that rule, for God changed my life.

I had an ancestor who carried his master faithfully along the road and protected him from angels who were going to kill him.  All his master Balaam did was beat him.  But God made him able to speak.  “What have I done to you,” he said, “to make you beat me these three times?  Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day?”  That changed things, believe me.

God got his message across that day and is ready to do the same now, if people will listen.  We are tiny and sometimes insignificant to some, but we have a lot to say.

I know I should be humble, and just let people think what they want to about me, but I wrestle stubbornly with the message God wants me to share today.  My number one dilemma is whether to choose to let Jesus shine on his own or to tell you my story as well.

Christmas night was like no other night.  The cast was much as you have seen it in your nativity scenes and paintings about that holy event.  By the way, thanks to the artists and sculptors who include me in that cast of characters.

Horses and donkeys looked on, along with a goat and a sheep or two.  A couple of doves nested in the rafters, cooing their delight at the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  

It goes without saying that Joseph and Mary were in the center of things.  The shepherds showed up that very night at the stable, but the wise men came to see us at a house where we were living some months later.

The angels, now they were something.  “Glory in the highest.  Peace on earth.  Good news of great joy.  A savior born.”  What heavenly words for a donkey to hear!

I gave my manger, the place I was eating hay, to use as a cradle for him.  It was soft and warm, and the swaddling clothes they brought for the newborn were beautiful.

I saw him grow up, and he was very kind to me.  Egypt was a tough time, but our life in Nazareth was wonderful.

I carried wood for Joseph, his dad, the carpenter, and later for Jesus as he made tables and carts and little figurines out of olive wood.  His was a childhood full of wonder and love.

My nephew, some 30 years later, carried Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem and was hoping the Jews would finally see him as the Messiah.  But they didn’t then, as many don’t even now.

My number one dilemma (the real one) is this.  What can I say that will make people realize that Jesus came to bring them the kind of joy and faith which trumps all that life can throw at them?

Some people can be real donkeys, in that they think that life issues such as pain, disagreement, or other people’s actions keep them from coming to the stable/church where Jesus resides.  Friends, it doesn’t matter.  Whether we are mentioned in the Bible or not does not matter.  The only thing that matters is that we walk with Jesus.

Here’s  the real deal.  If we know the real Jesus, the one born in the manger, the one who does miracles, the one who lives forever, our lives will amaze people like my ancestor who talked.

If we learn the true meaning of the word carry, we will stand taller.  I thought that I carried Jesus many times.  But he was carrying me.

If you meet the Jesus I know, you will be going places together.  Places you would never have imagined, never planned to go.  

My dilemma?  The donkey’s dilemma?  Your dilemma?


Don’t let your donkey nature keep you from knowing and serving Jesus this Christmas and beyond.  Even I, the stubbornest donkey of all, can see that.