Untie the Donkey

by Joanie Butman

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When I wrote about being a donkey a few weeks ago, I neglected two important details. When Jesus sent the apostles to fetch the donkey for His use, the first thing they had to do was untie it. That message was the gist of the healing conference I attended this weekend. We, too, have to be released from the ties that bind before we can be employed in the service of Christ. And it is usually other Godly people who help us. There are many people in my life that have been instrumental in leading me out bondage and into Christ’s healing presence.

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We get tied to lots of worldly things that prevent us from being useful in God’s kingdom. It might be a habit, a hurt, a person, a place, an ambition, an attitude, a tragedy, a trauma, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, etc. What are you tied to that’s holding you back? We need only ask, and Christ will release our bonds so that we can fulfill our God-given purpose. 

Keep in mind, it doesn’t necessarily have to be something negative. In fact, it could be something good He’s asking you to leave behind in order to embark on His next adventure for you --like when He called to the apostles, “Come follow me.” They homes, families, friends, businesses. Their abrupt departure must have seemed crazy to everyone who knew them. 

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The second detail I forgot to mention is that on Palm Sunday the apostles were instructed to bring back two animals – a donkey and her colt. Why? Because donkeys are fearful and can’t be forced to do something they see as contrary to their own best interests or safety.* They needed the colt and knew the best way to get its cooperation was to allow the mother to walk alongside it, making it feel safe. Jesus does the same for us. He often leads us to people, places and predicaments that seem fearful or uncomfortable but promises to go before us so we can feel safe and secure.

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My friend, and spiritual mentor in many ways, is moving across the country today, and I can’t help but think of how bittersweet it must be for her and her husband to say goodbye to their home of 35 years, and the many memories and friendships they’ve built during that time. It is bittersweet for me as well as I will miss her joyful presence, but I’m also excited for her as she launches into this next phase of life. 

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Our much-admired pastor is moving on as well after 11 years of faithful service. I will miss his humor, wisdom, and faith-filled sermons but understand that God has other plans for him and his wife, who has also been an integral part of my faith journey. Sometimes God asks us to leave behind everything we know to follow Him. Not only that, we aren’t always privy to where He’s leading. It’s an Abraham-style leap of faith to move forward, trusting that His plans will be more than we can ask or imagine.

My prayer for today is that I choose to be open to His prompting wherever He leads, whether it is out of town or simply out of my comfort zone.

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Finally, as part of each service at our church, we close by placing a hand on our neighbor and praying this blessing over them. It seems even more appropriate today as my friends travel toward their new home.