My teenaged son, J.R., recently had to choose a poem to recite before his World Lit class. Squeezing in next to me at my computer, he took us to a poetry website where we searched poems by everyone from Browning to Yeats.
J.R. informed me of his requirements: the poem couldn’t be too long, had to make sense and the words needed to be pronounceable. The first one he clicked on that met these demands was great until it started waxing…well, poetic…about apple blossoms.
“I don’t know, J.R.,” I gently warned. “Aren’t some of your buddies from the football team in this class?”
“Yeah,” he said, dismissing the poem with a click of the mouse. “I’d never live down that apple blossom thing.”
Rather than risk going into the field house one day and finding his helmet stuffed with such blossoms, he searched for something with more masculine ump! He had almost decided on John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim” when another poem caught his eye.
“The Donkey” by G.K. Chesterton.
Well, we had great fun reading it out loud together, with J.R. putting extreme emphasis and dramatic flair on the following descriptive phrases: “monstrous head”…”ears like errant wings”…”tattered outlaw of the earth”…and “I am dumb.”
The laughter faded when we reached the end of the poem and realized it wasn’t the hee-hawing of “Donkey” from Shrek. Understanding and appreciation began to meld as we read:
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
This poem was about the donkey that carried Jesus on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. (Matthew 21: 1-11) and the message was simple: you don’t have to be the biggest, brightest or best looking to do something for the King of Kings.
It’s also the poem J.R. has decided to recite. I’m proud of his choice, but am glad the teacher didn’t require students to dress in character. Always glad to get a laugh, J.R. really would stand before class in the biggest, most obnoxious donkey ears that poster board and glue sticks can make. On the other hand, if the ears would help kids in the politically correct public school system remember the poem and its message…
Actually, we should all remember the point of Chesterson’s work and ask ourselves, What can I do for Christ?
Some folks believe that doing for Christ is exclusive to major endeavors like building a church in Mawli-Mawki. Others think that “people of God” is limited to those who stand in the pulpit. Some don’t view themselves as ambassadors for Christ because they don’t have a masters in theology, a special “calling”, a magnetic personality, the physical strength for missions or the financial freedom to support an array of ministries.
Yet, for all the qualities people think are necessary to do something for Christ, He Himself said, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42 NIV)
In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus said to the righteous, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25: 40 NIV) To the unrighteous, He said, “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (verse 45) Though this parable prophesizes future judgment, we learn that how we treat others is synonymous with how we treat Christ.
Big, small or in the middle--all good for God’s glory counts with Christ.
Because we’re instructed to do everything as though working for the Lord, (Colossians 3:23) every day should be an opportunity to do something for Christ. We do for Him by obeying Him, and the instructions are in the Bible. Though we’re led in different ways and have different capabilities, everyone who is willing and obedient can please the Savior.
Are we willing to do for Him? If so, then we’ll obey Him.
The donkey that carried Christ wasn’t going to win any beauty pageants, especially if she had the “ears like errant wings” thing going on. She never attended Bible College or collected a multitude of life experience. Even so, she got an opportunity to do something for Christ, and I’ll bet she didn’t buck and bellow when that opportunity came along.
Let’s take a lesson from her servitude. Let’s put on the biggest donkey ears we can manage--and go do something for the King.