Monday, 11 March 2019

Any Old Donkey

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:


  1. Hi Rose, what a lovely post. I've always remembered a message my pastor preached one morning, about not discounting the apparently foolish things of this world, and he said, 'If God can speak through a donkey, he can speak through me.' Some lines just stick in your head.

    I love your Biblical examples, and how Balaam didn't freak out when his donkey spoke to him, but just rolled with it :) An excellent book you might love on the strength of this is Flash, by Rachel Anne Ridge, about what a little stray donkey taught her family. It was one of my favourite reads of the year a couple of years ago. Donkeys are gorgeous animals, and I do love them.

    1. With that memory of that message long ago, this post would have had an instant impact on you. I remember when I wrote it, the words came so easily. By the time I knew it, it was written. Some topics are just so ripe for the telling.
      I must get a copy of Flash. I admit that I tend to avoid stories centering around animals because I can't deal with them dying. lol. I'm a bit of a sook in that respect.

    2. Ah, that's the best thing about this book. He didn't die, and is still living happily in the pasture to this day 😊

  2. What a lovely post, Rose! I’ve always felt a bit sorry for the lowly donkey and the bad press it has received and loved the renditions I’ve heard from preachers who’ve used the donkey stories in their sermons as illustrations of how God has used them to show how He can work through anyone at anytime!
    I remember being nuzzled by a donkey at an animal farm when I was only about 10 years old and the owner said that I must be special because he had never seen him do that to anyone before!
    Thanks for that reminder - and thanks for a beautiful post! Bless you!

    1. You are right, Lesley, I think the donkey does get bad press. And yet, they are an animal that has been proven so useful and vital throughout many generations.
      What a sweet memory of being nuzzled by that donkey. I agree with the owner, animals can be very picky about who they like. My dog, Noodle is like that. He can have an instant like and dislike for someone. I bet he would instantly take to you too. :-) xo

  3. Such an encouraging post, Rose. Thank you for your insights and reminders. Somewhere in my archive I have a drama sketch I wrote about God's angelic intervention, clearly visible to a donkey but not visible to Balaam, despite his reputation (and entrepreneurial enterprise) as a prophet and diviner. What God can do through a willing and obedient servant who's not preoccupied with a personal agenda, eh?

    1. Exactly, Mazzy. Personal agenda or personal prejudice are horrible stumbling blocks. Sometimes we don't even realize that we have them. :-( How wonderful and patient is the Lord with Balaam, that He had the chance to 'come good', so to speak - or at the very least to do the right thing after all.

  4. Great post Rose. Love the pic of the donkey at the start of it too. Such encouragement it is that God can use any old donkey. I think the key is that the old donkey is totally surrendered to Him. How often God uses the foolish of the world to refuse the worldly wise when the fools are His. :) Thanks for sharing so beautifully and thanks for the encouragement that God can use even me! :)

    1. I see I loaded this comment incorrectly yesterday so I'm replying here again, Anusha: :-/

      Like stated in Corinthians, being 'fools' for Christ - except those most useful to Him are as far from fools as you can get.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hi Rose. I can remember a similar sermon drawn from Baalam - if God can speak through a donkey, He can speak through you. It's an encouraging thought and great to be reminded of it. I love the additional stories too - of Samson's jawbone and Jesus riding on a donkey. Thanks so much for your delightful post.

    1. Wasn't that jawbone something!!!! The donkey is one strong beast for a creature so awkward and common. Hmm! - I am sure there is a sermon - or at least another blog post topic in that too. :-)

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Jeanette. xox