WHOSE BURDEN ARE YOU BEARING?
Samuel sighed and stooped to hoist the 100-pound sack of seed corn to his shoulder. His back bent under the awkward load. Down the road lay an empty field. If he could only plant the seed he might raise a bumper crop for the King of Kings. Clouds gathered on the horizon and it looked like it might storm. Why did it have to be so difficult? He sighed again and staggered towards the lonely field.
He recited Psalm 126:5-6 to bolster his resolve as he shifted the sack to his other shoulder. "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him."
The sack was too heavy. He'd been up since before daylight but still had miles to go before he reached the field. His throat felt parched and tears pressed against his eyelids. Along with the corn he carried the burdens of life: his family, his job, and his personal quest for God. He felt his strength drain away with each drop of sweat dripping down his back. He dropped to his knees while rubbing his aching back. He couldn't do it.He was a failure.
Samuel looked up when he heard someone laughing. But it wasn't a someone at all. A dusty gray donkey stood in the middle of the path and brayed, showing a mouth filled with stained teeth and a pink tongue. He carried a pack on his back but no saddle.
"Excuse me, please!" Samuel struggled to his feet. He held the sack in front of him--if the animal charged he would thrust it in his face.
"You are a sorry sight, sir." The donkey's voice sounded like a reedy organ, slightly off pitch. "Where do you think you're going?"
"I'm on the way to the field, if it's any of your business."
"Hee-haw!" the donkey said. "That's a good one!" "I'm on an important mission for the King of Kings." Samuel hoisted the sack to his shoulder and took a few steps toward the animal "Please move out of my way. I've work to do."
"What kind of seed is that anyway?" The donkey planted his feet directly in front of Samuel and bared yellow teeth. "Where did you get it?" "From the temple, of course." Samuel stepped back but the donkey nosed the sack and sniffed loud and long. "From the Cleric."
"Hybrid seed in the temple? Are you sure about that?"
When Samuel first heard the master's voice telling him to plant seed in the empty field, he had stopped by the temple. A helpful man in clerical robes had led Samuel to a room with sacks of seed. At first Samuel had reached for a ten-pound sack--it was a long ways to the field and he had frequent lumbago--but the man guided him to the larger sacks. "Don't you want to prove your love to the King?" Samuel had noticed how his black eyes glittered splotches of orange with a mesmerizing light. "Hee-haw!" the donkey interrupted Samuel's thoughts. "I'll bet that one had the glittering eye."
"How did you know?"
"For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light," (2 Corinthians 11:14 NIV) the donkey said with a yawn. "But how can that be?"
"They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them." (Matthew 23:4 NIV)
The animal's eyelids drooped. It appeared the beast was about to take a nap. Time was slipping away and Samuel had much to do. He hefted the sack to his shoulder. What did a donkey know about the will of God? "Where do you think you're going?" The donkey snapped alert. "Didn't you hear a word I said?"
Samuel dropped the sack to the ground and sat on it. The bumpy kernels made a rough chair. "I'm just doing what Psalm 126 says--I'm bearing precious seed, weeping."
"And what about Matthew 11:30?" the donkey said. "I'm in the business of burden bearing and know about these things."
Samuel searched his mind but could not remember the passage. "I'm not familiar with Matthew 11:30."
"Obviously-- for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Samuel shook his head. It didn't make sense. He had the seed from the temple and an empty field. What was he doing wrong? He was working as hard as he could and yet couldn't complete his mission.
"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches. Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV)." The donkey stretched his back and fixed his long face towards Samuel. "Why is your bag so heavy?"
"It's good seed--hybrid corn treated with antifungal agents--it's the most expensive seed on the market."
"Hee-haw!" the donkey said. "The seeds of faith are the smallest of all. Your sack contains seeds for duty, legalism, bondage, religion--a harvest for the enemy."
"What?" Samuel's heart started to beat a staccato in his chest. His intentions were good, his motives pure and yet he was planting seeds that would not glorify the King?
With his teeth, the donkey reached over into his pack and pulled out a slim envelope. He motioned with his head for Samuel to take it. "What's this?" Samuel said.
"It's the seed the Master intended for your use." The donkey flicked his tail at a buzzing fly around his back. "The seeds of faith--enough to sow the entire field."
"But that's impossible!" Samuel said. "That's too easy! Why with a burden this light I can run to the field and have it sown by supper." "Exactly." The donkey swished his tail again and nipped at the fly with his long teeth. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (NIV)."
Samuel pocketed the slim envelope into his shirt before heaving the heavy sack into the weeds alongside the trail. The donkey grinned a wide smile and stepped away to allow him to pass.
Samuel straightened his back and moved forward in great relief. The clouds had blown over and the sunshine warmed his shoulders. With a light heart he headed for the field.
"Wait!" The donkey was almost over the hill. "I want to ask you something." Samuel's voice echoed down the trail and the donkey turned his head towards him.
"What is it? Hee-haw! I've business to attend for the King."
"What about the weeping in Psalm 126?" Samuel cupped his mouth to make sure the words reached the donkey. "Why did the sower weep when he carried the seed?"
"For love." The donkey brayed a long hee-haw towards Samuel on the trail. "Only love."
If God can use a donkey,do you think not that he could use any one to do his work that is willing to? I pray you all have a beautiful day and spread some love of God along the way.
Lovingly In Christ; Pastor Linda Begley