Donkeys Still Talk: Q&A With Author Virelle Kidder
- 2004 4 Apr
In spite of our desires to be holy Christians who live out God's perfect plan for family life, we often find our families are our biggest stumbling blocks. Virelle Kidder, Author of Donkey's Still Talk, explains how God works through the struggles in our life to help us become the people of faith He designed us to be.
Q: You say Donkeys Still Talk. Still? I didn't know they talked in the first place.
A: You bet they do! But they don't look or sound like furry gray long eared creatures. Rather, they enter our lives disguised as difficult circumstances we can't change or move, like people whose lives and needs press into ours on a regular basis. They could be health problems, tough financial or job issues -- many different things. The one thing they have in common is that no matter how hard we try to move them or change them, nothing helps. They won't budge.
Q: What is the story of Balaam's Ass (Numbers 22)? Can you give us the 30-second version?
A: Sure! If you walk back in the Bible to Numbers 22 you'll meet Balaam, the questionable prophet who was invited by the King of Moab to curse the horde of Israelites camped near his doorstep. But God told Balaam not to do it. Next the King sent high-level officials to bribe Balaam into coming and laying a curse on the Israelites. Finally God gives him the go-ahead but with this warning: "Say only what I tell you."
Soon afterward, Balaam set out en route to Moab riding his now-famous donkey that instantly recognized the angel of the Lord blocking their path and stopped dead, refusing to go any further. Angry that his plans are interrupted, Balaam gets off and beats her three times until God finally gives that little donkey a voice. "Am I in the habit of doing this to you?" the donkey asks. "Then why do you beat me these three times?" I imagine her pointing her long ears forward as if to say, "Look up there, stupid!"
When Balaam views the strange brightness at the end of the road, we are told God opened his eyes to see the angel of the Lord, sword drawn. Instantly, Balaam hits the dust and listens to God, which is exactly what we must do when our donkeys speak, too. These are life-changing encounters with the living God we must not miss.
Q: How do we identify the donkeys in our lives?
A: Sometimes they come attached to a name like, "If only....my husband were a believer," or "If only my son would get his act together," "If only I had a job I liked," or "If only I didn't have________________ problem." Donkeys wear many faces. If you're still not sure, eavesdrop on your own prayers. What has you in a tangle right now, praying a regular mantra over and over all day long? Chances are, it's a donkey that just won't move. I've ridden many of them in my life, sometimes it seemed like a whole herd.
Q: Why do we blame the donkeys in our lives for our problems?
A: Because we can't get them to do what we want them to do. They block our plans, mess up our peace and happiness, and generally create havoc in our lives. We can't beat them, so blaming is second best.
Q: What is the purpose of these donkeys?
A: The donkeys God either sends or allows, even those we invite through our own unwise choices, have a wonderful purpose. They carry us to the extremities of our own resources and bring us face to face with God. They teach us that we cannot do this life on our own; we need the Lord every moment. He loves those donkeys because they finally show us how to listen, how to bow low before Him and invite God to act and to speak on our behalf. I'm convinced that the greatest God stories in our life begin on a donkey's back.
Q: Is God always trying to tell me something through a donkey or are some donkeys brought on as a consequence to something I've done (or not done)? How do you know the difference?
A: Yes to both questions! In the early days of our marriage I nearly pushed my unbelieving husband away from Christ with my preachy, self-righteous attitude. I had learned nothing of mercy, sacrificial love, or the value of keeping my mouth shut and letting God speak. The dramatic change came in our marriage when my donkey husband spoke softly and said to me, "Yes, I am a pagan and I am behaving exactly like a pagan is supposed to behave, but you are the Christian, and you are not loving." I hit the dust in repentance, believe me, and asked God to speak. He did. What He said changed both our lives radically and wonderfully. One way to know the difference is simply to invite God to speak and then keep quiet until He does.
Q: You say that those with a tendency to plan or control things have a harder time coping with donkeys. Why?
A: Control freaks have a harder time with everything in life that doesn't conform to their plan. It all eventually rolls out in a choice: will I hand God the reins to my life or not? Then, on every issue that halts my path, I must learn to look to Him first for direction. He always finds a way to let us know, "This is the way, walk in it!" Isn't God amazing?
Q: It's easy to complain when we have donkeys braying on our doorstep and intruding into our lives. How do we avoid it?
A: We can't. It's part of God's perfect plan for growing us up and carrying out His will. Look at Joseph and all the donkeys he rode, first being thrown in the pit, then sold into slavery far away from his family, being thrown into prison after doing the honorable thing and not giving in to Potiphar's wife. What purpose did those donkeys have? They helped Joseph to trust God's character in the hard times, to wait for Him to act, to give him the strength he would need. Then, when the right time came. Joseph was perfectly prepared for the premiership, ruling second only to Pharoah over all the known world during times of famine. He saved millions of lives, including his own family. My guess is Joseph would credit his donkeys with helping him become God's man.
Q: In your book, Donkeys Still Talk, you say that one of the best things we can do is thank God for the outcome of our situation BEFORE we see a result. Please explain.
A: This is the not-for-sissies part. Learning to thank God before He answers our prayer means very grown up stuff: thanking Him whether He chooses to give us what we ask for or not. When we trust God like that, I believe He walks us in a tight embrace through whatever difficulty we face. Intimacy with God in my life has grown through walking in the dark with Him, when Jesus alone knew the road and the destination.
Q: Sometimes it's hard to be thankful and see the big picture when we're in the midst of pain, anger, or hurt. How can we train ourselves to be thankful when we're on the donkey?
A: We all have to face the "What if''s?" What if I look foolish? What if He leads me somewhere I don't want to go? What if God doesn't come through for me? What if I fail and dishonor God and myself? There are lots of questions like that. I'm learning, slowly at times, to answer, "So what?" If God is not impressed, does it matter what anyone else thinks of me? Not much. Who am I trying to please here? God or me and everybody watching? In the last frame of our life, only One will matter. I want to live that way now.
Q: Sometimes I get tired praying the same thing over and over and I wonder if God really hears me. Does prayer really help? What suggestions do you have for making prayer easier?
A: It's easy to leave our prayers only half said. Asking God to do things for us, to change others, to work great things, is all wonderful but we need to thank Him and praise Him now as though He had already answered. What a relief that is! Talk about ushering in joy and amazement. Life has the tingle of adventure and romance when we pray like that. It's also easier to pray Child to Father, just like Jesus did. Simply said, God always listens to the child who wants to do His will.
Q: How do we hear what God has to say? Is there any way we can be sure to hear His voice over ours?
A: The two biggest challenges for me are to keep quiet long enough to hear Him, and to empty my heart of all my own cleverly arranged outcomes. The great thing about God is He is hard to misunderstand. He always agrees with Himself. First, look at the way your donkey is leaning, your circumstances. What do you see there? Next, listen for the whispers of the Holy Spirit, the soft inner voice of God to our heart. Last, consult the Guidebook, God's Word. Keep seeking Him in His Word, and you'll find your answer. Until then, wait.
Q: Can we really count on God to develop the fruits of the Sprit in us?
A: He's the only One who can do it! The clear evidence to everyone around us when we trust God to speak, listen for His voice, and hand Him the reins to this donkey is the fruit of the Spirit only He can grow. We simply couldn't handle this donkey without Him and everyone else knows it, too. Where does the new patience come from, the gentleness, the willingness to wait quietly and not complain, the tender heart toward others who suffer? It must be Jesus! He's the Vine who gives us all we need. It's good to remember that fruit is for the benefit of a starving world, not just for our own spiritual health. God has someone else in your life today who needs that fruit.
Q: What one piece of advice would you give our listeners/readers today?
A: Name your donkey honestly and invite God to speak. It may not be easy to do, but your life will carry the aroma of His presence like never before.
Q: Where can our listeners/readers get a copy of Donkeys Still Talk?
A: Local Christian bookstores, Amazon.com, or NavPress.com. Please visit my website at www.donkeysstilltalk.com or www.virellekidder.com and let me know what you think of Donkeys Still Talk.
Click here to read an excerpt from Donkeys Still Talk.