I was in New York City a few months ago and heard this story in a sermon. The pastor could not find the source, and I can’t find it either, but it is worth telling anyway.
The donkey awakened, his mind still savoring the afterglow of the most exciting day of his life. Never before had he felt such a rush of pleasure and pride. Everyone loved him. He walked into town and found a group of people by the well.
“I’ll show myself to them,” he thought.
But they didn’t even notice him. They went on drawing their water and paid him no mind.
“Throw your garments down,” he said crossly. “Don’t you know who I am?”
They just looked at him in amazement. Someone slapped him across the tail and ordered him to go away.
“Miserable heathens!” he muttered to himself. “I’ll just go to the market where the good people are. They will remember me.” But the same thing happened. No one paid any attention to the donkey as he strutted down the main street in front of the market place.
“The palm branches! Where are the palm branches?” he shouted. “Yesterday, you threw palm branches!”
Hurt and confused, the donkey returned home to his mother.
“Foolish child,” she chided gently. “Don’t you realize that without Him, you are nothing but an ordinary donkey?”
After the pastor told this story, the entire congregation drew in their breath in unison. It was loud enough for me to hear as I drew in my own breath.
The story speaks for itself.
So often I find myself acting like this ordinary donkey. If I am not expecting praise, I offer it unduly. The Voice of the Martyrs tells story after story of martyrs who hold on to Christ in their time of terror. There is a tendency to place these martyrs on a pedestal. This donkey reminds me that even ordinary Christians can one day experience the same treatment as the millions of martyrs before them. Although a martyr’s story is incredible to hear, we must never forget that the credit only goes to God.
In my last blog post, “My First Bowl of Cereal,” I mentioned how some Christians recant their faith under severe persecution. This can happen to anyone who loses sight of God. Glorify God for the perseverance He provided to past, present and future martyrs.
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” — 1 Corinthians 10:12-13