Don’t Be the Donkey

There is a wonderful poem by G.K. Chesterton called The Donkey”. It is told from the perspective of the donkey that rides into Jerusalem. While the first three stanzas lament the donkey’s unfortunate appearance and life… the final stanza celebrates his moment in the sun. It reads:

Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:   
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet.

I’ve taught this poem before, and my students always enjoy the donkey’s confusion here. He thinks the celebration for Jesus is a celebration for him. The cries of the crowd and the palms? They’re in his honor! Poor guy doesn’t know any better; he’s just a donkey. 

But what about us? How often do we interpret the cheers of the crowd as being for us? How often do we forget about the person beside us, about Jesus and the glory he deserves? I’ve recently had to apply this to my life. I’m trying to get a book published! It’s so exciting and I feel so accomplished, but you know what? God gave me the intelligence and the creativity to write it. He gave me purpose and passion, hope and a life that is filled with ideas and material. He gave me creation, with its many splendors and triumphs. What would I be without God? Apart from him, it’s all meaningless.

So over the next few months, as I try to get published, I’m trying to remember not to be the donkey. I don’t want to confuse the cheers as adding to my glory and fame. I don’t want to confuse recognition or success as something I’ve earned, or worse, something I deserve, I want to remember what I owe Jesus, and what he’s done for me. I don’t want to be the donkey.

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