A wise and faith-filled lady once told me the Lord could use ‘any old donkey.’ I’ve never forgotten that. While I understood at the time she was referring to herself, I’ve often wondered about that saying: any old donkey.
I’ve recently come across several Bible references to donkeys that have made a real impression on me, and given me insight into what she may have meant.
First is Balaam’s donkey. Most of us will know the story of Balaam in the Old Testament. He was a pagan prophet, a practitioner of divination and magic arts who was called to Moab’s king to curse the oncoming Israelite army. Not somebody who you would expect would be useful to the Lord.
But the Lord can use anyone, anywhere, and at any time. He sent Balaam to the king with the instruction to say only what God put into his mouth.
But Balaam’s heart was rebellious, so on the way the Lord sent an angel to bar his path. Balaam’s donkey bucked up. The donkey could see the angel even though Balaam couldn’t. Balaam beat his donkey and cursed the animal, so the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey and spoke to Balaam through the beast. Then Balaam’s eyes were opened and he too saw the angel. He repented and went on to meet with the King. He said only what the Lord told him to, blessing the Israelites.
There is more to this story, and you can find it in Numbers 22–25. What struck me was how the Lord used that donkey. Peter later references this story when he spoke about false prophets and teachers:
They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. Peter 2:15-16 NIV
I don’t know about you, but when I envision the sort of animal the Lord would use to speak through, I think of a lion. A great beast of majesty and presence, king of its domain, with a stature as grand as that of Aslan in the Narnian Chronicles.
I don’t think of a donkey, a simple animal mostly associated with lowly existence. The workmate of a farmer, or the ride of a peasant. A beast of burden lacking majestic presence. Yet God chose to speak through a donkey.
How often do we think of ourselves as that donkey? I know I do. Lowly, unprepared, simplistic, without finesse, lacking in presence and ability.
How often do we think of others that way? I know I’ve been guilty of this, too. I’ve looked at someone and thought there was no way the Lord could use them. Sometimes our perceptions or prejudices get in the way. Like Balaam, who couldn’t see the angel for his anger at the donkey, we can’t see God’s own messenger because we’ve decided it cannot be.
But, as my wise friend told me, the Lord can use any old donkey.
You see, the donkey is an animal of servitude. And one thing I know for sure is that the Lord can use any one of His servants, no matter what church or denomination. It’s us who miss out if we can’t see or accept the message because of our prejudice towards the messenger.
The next Bible reference to the donkey that struck me was in Judges, where Samson:
Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone
I have made donkeys of them.
With a donkey’s jawbone
I have killed a thousand men.”
When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone. Judges 15:15-17 (NIV)
That was one tough jawbone! I know Samson was a mighty man, full of supernatural spiritual strength, but I wondered at that fresh jawbone of the donkey. How did it not fall apart? For such an unremarkable creature, it sure had a mighty frame.
Again, the Lord used something lowly to bring about a mighty victory.
Finally, think of Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, riding a donkey to shouts of “Hosanna.” This fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 (NIV)
There are all sorts of debates as to why Jesus rode on a donkey. I’ve read some interesting ideas as to the symbolism behind the donkey, but what strikes me is that—yet again—the common donkey rose to a mighty use.
I believe my wise friend was correct. The Lord can use any old donkey. Next time you think yourself unable to be used by God, or look at someone that way because you wonder if they are useful to the Lord, remember the humble donkey. Remember the mighty ways the Lord has lifted this animal up. It has been useful in service to Him far beyond the grand beasts of the world.
How much more useful to Him are we when we have a heart to serve Him.
God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are. 1 Corinthians 1:28 (NIV)
First seen in Book Fun Magazine.
Rose was born in North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her Resolution series.
Two of the three Resolution novels have won Australian CALEB awards. She has also released The Greenfield Legacy, a collaborative novel highlighting the pain of Australia’s past policy of forced adoption, as well as standalone novel, Ehvah After. Her most recent release is the novella, A Christmas Resolution.
Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and her desire to produce stories that point readers to Jesus. Rose holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, and resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband and son.
Visit Rose at: https://rosedee.com/
And on Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/Rose-Dee-Author-172886062810998/