(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
It happened at a church outing. The farmer had invited fathers and sons for a day of fishing in the large stocked pond. The event included a picnic lunch under a rustic pavilion, and lots of good fellowship among the attendees. One who seemed interested in what was happening was a pet donkey who, from its vantage point of a nearby field with head over the fence, was looking at all the goings on. A few of the more adventurous folks ambled over to the donkey to give it a scratch on its head. Four-year-old Noah couldn’t stay away. He climbed the wooden fence, the better to give the friendly critter a love pat. But apparently the donkey thought Noah’s extended finger looked lik a small carrot………and chomp! Noah let out a scream, and dad came running! Fortunately, Noah was more scared than injured, but the bite hurt, and the tears streamed for the next ten or so minutes!
Our featured Scripture is from James 4:13 through 15:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
What does this Scripture have to do with Donkey Bites?!! Well, the donkey sampling Noah’s finger was entirely unexpected in the boy’s mind. Perhaps someone with more ‘donkey’ experience could have warned Noah that donkeys will bite! So let’s apply this to James’ warning to those making big plans!
Living in Georgia for the last three years, I will use Georgia topography in my illustration.
- Someone comes up with a big money-making idea! “Hey,” he says to his buddy…
Have you heard what is going on in Atlanta? According to my sources (and you know my sources are reliable), there’s an opportunity to make a bundle! It may take a few months to have it all come together, but we don’t have anything else going on right now, so let’s do it! Are you in?
- So plans are made, and everything is set……EXCEPT for one thing! You don’t know when the donkey might bite!
It reminds me of the story Jesus told in Luke 12:16 through 20 – The Parable of the Rich Fool!
The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?” So he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have pro- vided?”
The man did not take into consideration that the donkey just might bite – and the donkey bit in a big way! Remember what James said in his exhortation? “…you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” What does James mean when he said life is so tenuous – even as a vapor? After all, Moses wrote in Psalm 90:10 (Easy-to-Read Version), “We live about 70 years or, if we are strong, 80 years.” That seems like a long time, especially to someone in their early decades of life. But reaching the age of 70 or 80 is not guaranteed!
Hal had just graduated high school and, although I didn’t know his life’s plans, he had a bright future of many more adventurous years! A bright future…….that is, until he hit a tree head on and died – the first one of my graduating class of 1964! As James said in verse 14 of our featured Scripture, “…you do not know what will happen tomorrow.”
And even if we do complete eight decades, Moses continues: “…suddenly, the years are gone, and we fly away.” Life is vaporous!
So what wisdom does James give for those who make such bold plans, disregarding donkey bites? “…you do not know what will happen tomorrow….Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’”
When Noah wandered off in the direction of the donkey, there were a lot of people milling around, talking, laughing, and generally enjoying themselves. I don’t think anyone took much notice of a four-year-old wandering twenty feet away and climbing a rail fence to pet a friendly donkey. But when a little boy screams and cries out in pain, people take notice, especially his daddy, who rushed to pick him up in loving arms, examined his finger (seeing that no real damage had been done), and comforted his son until Noah calmed down!
We don’t know when donkey bites may come! And those bites may be a painful nibble or a serious chomp! But, as Christians, we know we have a heavenly Father who not only comforts us when we are bitten, but will steer us away from serious dangers if we seek His will!
And so, I leave you with one of my favorite Scriptures, Psalm 25:4 and 5:
Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.
Heeding such truth will save us from many ‘donkey bites’!