Dead donkeys can tell tales; Really? Have you ever heard a donkey talk? Chances are that you haven’t, and I suspect if you start telling people you have they may lock you away. The only time I have ever heard of a donkey talking is in the book of Numbers when God wanted to get Baalam’s attention. If donkeys rarely talk, then what tales can a dead donkey tell?
Looking at the picture that I have posted, what story comes to your mind? When you see this dried up corpse of what appears to be a very young donkey, what is the story that you envision?
It is said that Ernest Hemingway once made a wager with someone that he could write a short story in just six words. The story he wrote: “For sale, baby shoes, never worn.” He won the bet. There are very few details provided, but it tells a story. Maybe you thought that someone gave birth to a stillborn baby they had prepared for, down to the detail of buying shoes, but they were never worn, and now the parents wanted to get rid of what reminded them of sorrow. Maybe it is a story of simple miscalculation. Shoes were bought on sale, but they didn’t fit, and rather than go to waste, the purchaser offers them for resale.
So what is the story behind this picture. The ground is dried and cracked. Because I know the picture was taken in Mali, West Africa, I know what the ground typically looks like during arid times, and it is not this. This picture speaks of a time there was water here that dried up. Did this young donkey wander into water and drown?
Was the donkey diseased? Was it injured? Maybe it couldn’t walk and the owner just abandoned it to die. It is a sad picture in so many ways. Honestly, when you saw it, did you say, “Awwwww, poor donkey.” The story remains untold, and left to our imagination.
But this dead donkey reminds me of a night I went inside my mosquito tent in the village to sleep late at night. As the wind blew, it blew in a horrendously bad smell. Such a stink as would make your eyes burn, and your gag reflex kick in. Out loud I wondered, “What is that gross smell?” One of our African translators said, “There is a dead donkey over behind the bushes. Do you want me to go burn it?” Actually that night we got up and had a donkey bonfire. The point is something that is dead really really stinks.
In how many churches across our land are there people who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof, as the scripture says? Are there not folks in our pews who have never come to know Christ as Savior? They have never been born again. In other words, they are dead spiritually. Death always stinks, well until it has been dead so long that there is nothing but dried up bones. What is the impact of that on our churches?
There is another tale from dead donkeys. Pardon my French, as they say, but not only does death stink, it sucks. To be spiritually dead in this world is a terrible way to live. There is emptiness. There is loneliness. There is no hope. To die physically in a state of spiritual death, well that doesn’t end well at all. It is an eternity separated from God.
No doubt you can probably think of any number of tales this dead donkey tells. Probably you can think of many life lessons that I have not mentioned. But the bottom line of this conversation for me is this. You don’t have to be dead, spiritually. You can be born again in Christ. The promise of the Scripture is this. “Anyone that calls on the name of the LORD, will be saved.” (Rom 10:13) If you want some help in calling on the name of the Lord today, message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those of you who know Jesus, if you are wondering what that smell is in our culture today, it is the smell of death all around us. The same text, Rom. 10 goes on to say, “How will they call on Him in whom they have not believed, and how will they believe in Him of whom they have never heard.” Don’t like the smell of death? Then let’s get busy telling those who do not yet know Jesus all about the incredible good news. Let’s tell people how much God loves them, and how they can know God through Jesus Christ.
This dead donkey in the picture, not much we can do. But we can impact the lostness all around us. Those dead in their sins can be made alive through Christ.