Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Not Just Healed, But Whole ... Lesson from a Once-Wild Donkey

Hi Friends,

Does God just want you healed? Or does he want to make you whole?

Been thinking about this story about our once-wild donkey, Jenny. She's gotten a little skinny again (the others are eating up the food and are fat, and she's not getting enough) so I've moved her into another stall to help her out.

Here's what Jenny taught me about healing and wholeness:

A Once-Wild Donkey

         I spied the long ears peeking above a scraggly bush. Next came a long nose and dark, donkey eyes. Jenny peeked at me.
         I peeked at her. She was thin, ragged, terrified.
         She dropped her head.
         “It’s all right.” I shifted the load of hay in my arms and sidled closer. 
         She took one step away, then stopped and watched me with suspicious eyes.
         We’d had our recently-rescued donkey for nearly two weeks, and I still hadn’t convinced her to come to the barn and eat her hay with the horses. So every day I hauled a huge arm-load of orchard grass out to Jenny and tried to coax her to eat.
         I dropped the hay on the ground in front of her and reached out one hand to gently rub the top of her neck. Then, I ran my other hand over the faded marking that branded her as a once-wild BLM donkey. She’d been owned by an elderly couple for years and had grown out of her wildness, but she’d never quite gotten over her fear. 
When the elderly couple had moved into a nursing home, Jenny had been abandoned and left without any care. She’d become gaunt and starved, her fur tattered, her hooves overgrown and cracked.
         Now, she looked to me to make it better. And yet, even as I carried her food out to her, I could see the “if” in her eyes and I was reminded of the leper who said to Jesus, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Mark 1:40, NIV)  If you are willing, you can heal me. 
         Even as she hid behind the bush, Jenny knew that I had the power to bring her what she needed. What she didn’t know is if I was willing to do it. Did I care enough? Did I love enough? Or would I abandon her, unhealed?
         Sometimes, her questions echo my own. God, I know you are able, but are you willing? Do you love me enough? When I’m hurting and afraid, when I doubt and feel weak, will you leave me in this condition or are you willing to make me whole?
         And just like I say to Jenny, and like Jesus said to the leper, God says to me, “I am willing. Be clean!” (Mark 1:41, NIV). Be whole.
         Despite her doubts, despite her fear, I was willing not only to heal Jenny’s gauntness but also heal her heart. Then, and now, I want more for her than just physical health. I envision a donkey who finds her joy, her purpose, in bringing hope and healing to disadvantaged kids at Wonder Wood Ranch. I want her to become all that she can be, to fulfill her potential and purpose and leave all her fears behind. I want to take her “if” and not only bring healing but wholeness.
         Jenny may look to me to solve her external problems of hunger and hoof-ache, but I offer her a chance to be a part of our family, to know love and have a mission and discover the joy of being a part of something wondrous.
         Today, Jenny has found the courage to eat with the horses up at the barn. I’ve fed her, given her supplements, wormed her, had the farrier out to fix her feet and the vet out to vaccinate. I’ve pet her, brushed her, cleaned her hooves, built a shelter to protect her from the rains.
         I was willing. I am willing.
         And the once-skinny, bedraggled donkey is now happy, healthy, and only sometimes runs away and hides. Usually she lets the kids at the Ranch pet her, hug her. Occasionally she is brave enough to give a kid a ride. Despite her doubts, despite her “if,” she is becoming the donkey God created her to be.
         And in my fears, in my “ifs” that is what Jesus is offering me too, just as he offered the leper. He is telling me that doubt is not a barrier to his love, that he longs for me not to just be healthy but to be whole.
         God is offering more than healing. He wants to do more than make it better. He is calling you, me, even Jenny to a mission of love as we become who we are meant to be.