A Donkey’s Dilemma

Matthew 11:13-15 ESV
13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Willingness is a strange commitment.

A lot is heard that we are unwilling to accept. It seems Jesus masterfully articulates what it means to have ears to hear- we must be willing to accept what we hear. Acceptance is always followed by obedience (Is 1:19-20). This process forces us to first listen, and then willingly accept what we must do and then actually do it. Anything missing from the apparent route won’t lead to the good of the land.

I remember being in a position one time where I accepted a job that required a completed degree. While I was in the process of finishing, I had not, but I got the job anyway. Fast-forward a few years and the pace of completing was at a stall. Frankly, I didn’t think I needed to finish because the course study wasn’t related to my job. Through the course of life, I was called as a witness in a civil trial and during questioning was debased by an attorney who thought it was ridiculous my experience wasn’t validated by a degree. What he said was quite frankly, humiliating. It was also true. And that was the hardest part.

In one thirty-minute verbal beat-down, I had been convinced by a stranger to do what I promised my parents I would do years earlier. Finish.

It had nothing to do with the case, nothing to do with reality, but for whatever reason I was willing to accept it.


We hear about what is tethering us to frustration but are unwilling to cut the chains. We hear about breaking busy but are unwilling to learn how to say no. We hear about God’s tonic for happiness but are unwilling to adjust our budget, our pursuits and even our responsibility at home. Right now, the longer I wait to accept my need to quit being so brash, the more defined the culture of our house becomes pessimistic for the family I lead. I’m hearing but have been unwilling to accept it. Happiness isn’t kids who are just as ornery as I have been. If I want something better for them- I must be better.

Accepting John as Elijah meant the listener would also be willing to believe Jesus was the Messiah. They had not been willing to accept Jesus and that is why John was so necessary in the plan of God. One prepared the way for the next.

After that dismal day of deposition- I diligently finished my final semesters, which sovereignly put me in position to immediately follow God to grad school. Gentle nudges weren’t working, nor parental prodding. It took the difficult words of a schlep attorney to move me to action- to have ears to hear. Today, I happily compare my experience with that attorney to God opening the mouth of a donkey (Nu 22:28, I use the ESV in that quote but the KJV gives greater clarity of my true emotions).


Where have you been unwilling? What has resonated with your soul lately that is convicting your unwillingness to accept? God may not just give you what you want- but He will lead you there. The shepherd of Psalm 23 doesn’t give water to the sheep but He does lead them to peaceful streams. And in that place called there, your soul will not want. Purpose is a process of listening and following. Hearing and accepting.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

She who has ears to hear, let her hear.

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