Y'all may have heard I'm doing a 40 Day Sugar-fast with a couple hundred of my closest friends, right? And we're talking about deep stuff, like every day. Which can get exhausting. Then yesterday I hit the wall - just worn out by all the deeply theological heart work, crying so much I thought I'd dry up and blow away, but I didn't. So today I just wanted a break, you know, just a piece of chocolate maybe. Nope, can't do that. Maybe some mindless surfing online. No, gave that up too. Maybe a book, yeah, a fluffy easy read. Then this story about a donkey came to mind - seemed safe enough (or so I thought). Yes! Just the thing.
Three chapters in, on an afternoon I desperately wanted to escape any more deep heart work, I was reading about Flash the donkey, who'd been abandoned then found a home with a new family, a family that was feeling rather abandoned as well.
Here's the part that really got me... One night, smack dab in the middle of an ice storm, Rachel and her husband Tom went out into the frigid night air to marvel at the icicles hanging from their rustic Texas barn. It was then that they found their recently rescued pet standing wet, cold through, and shivering with ice hanging in clumps from his coat - just outside the confines of his warm sanctuary, full of hay and oats.
I was totally into the story, just for the endearing equine quality mind you, (remember I was taking a day off from all the spiritual lessons God's been teaching me) and then this happened:
"I suddenly had a vision of my own self - in the darkest moments of my own life - standing outside, cold and alone, just as Flash had been. Oh sure, there had been many times I'd needed help and had been comforted by the shelter of God's presence. But there had also been just as many times that I'd stood shivering in lonely misery. Could it be possible that in my own moments of deepest need I had been just that close to comfort and not realized it?
Refuge -- true refuge in the face of life's struggles -- can be found only in Him. I know that. So why was it that when times got tough for us, the first thing I wanted to do was go shopping for a new purse? And eat something completely decadent, like a molten death-by-chocolatedessert topped with gooey ice cream? It's like I wanted to find comfort in the mall. Or more specifically, the food court of the mall. Or both.
Sometimes my refuge du jour was losing myself online in Facebook and Twitter. Doing Google searches for red-carpet hairstyles or shopping on Amazon. I never got into alcohol, but I hear it does a bang-up job of numbing the pain. I've got plenty of little "coping techniques" for stress and storms, but in reality all of them are just substitutes for true comfort. Temporary relief for my deeper problems. They are counterfeits that seem like the real things, but in the end, don't work."
(Flash, by Rachel Anne Ridge Pg.50-51)
Seems as though God was chasing me down through a donkey named Flash, just like he'd done from cover to cover in the lives of Rachel and Tom, just like he's willing to do in your life - wherever you are, whatever you're going through.
My friends, I cannot recommend this simple, easy-to-read story of a donkey and his people near enough. Especially if you are a bit tired of all the deep soul work faith seems to require, here's a delightful donkey-tale, full of application and opportunity to grow in faith.
You can order your own copy of Flash: The Homeless DonkeyWho Taught Me about Life, Faith, and Second Chances, or enter to win one today.
That's right, I'm giving a copy of this sweet book away! Choose any number of ways to be entered to win. I'm also including a $25 gift card to PANERA, because sometimes you just need to get away from the farm to read for the afternoon. And I love Panera. And God loves you!