In today’s Bible reading* we hear God’s disappointment and frustration. God uses donkeys and oxes to express His feelings about His children.
“I have raised children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s feeding trough,
but Israel does not know; my people do not understand.”
(Isaiah 1:2-3 CSB)
I have not had any experience with an ox. And I have had very little experience with donkeys. However, I spent a week with some Boy Scouts at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico ten years ago. For several days we had a burro that we named “Paco”. Paco was supposed to help the Scouts in their 70-mile trek in the Rocky Mountains and give the Scouts a feeling of how settlers traveled many years ago.
Quite honestly, I think the burro was more trouble than he was worth; we were told that this “beast of burden” couldn’t carry more than fifty pounds, including his saddlebags. In other words, Paco couldn’t carry more weight than our mid-teenaged boys were carrying!
One day, our crew leader had Paco’s lead rope and almost slid down a steep slope when we met an oncoming group and Paco didn’t want to share the path. Guiding Paco on the twisted, narrow trails and encountering Scouts coming the opposite way on those trails gave the Scouts responsiblility. Each night, someone would be responsible for taking Paco to a shelter and feeding him from the stash of alfalfa the camp staff supplied.
To say that the Scouts thought Paco was difficult to deal with would be an understatement. They were very happy when we finally dropped off Paco at a trailcamp and resupplied our rations of food and water to finish our trek.
I have heard of my relatives struggling with donkeys and mules as they used the farm animals to cultivate crops. They just seem to have a reputation of being difficult and stubborn. The animals, that is, not my relatives!
God says in effect that my relatives’ farm animals and Paco were better-behaved and better-tempered that His children. God’s children were worse than a donkey! That speaks volumes!
How would God feel about your temperament? Do you listen to His voice and promptly do what He says — joyfully and without grumbling? Or are you more like a donkey in your walk with Jesus?
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: