By Dr. Scott Houser
Amos 6:12 asks: “Do Horses run on the rocky crags?” Although the Bible never really says, it is always assumed that Mary, in the late stages of her pregnancy, rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. A horse would have seemed like a better form of transportation, but in the rocky mountainous country they were traversing, a donkey may have been the best choice.
Working with both horses and donkeys, I know they react differently when scared or threatened. A horse when frightened will try to get its rear end under itself and its head up, so it can run as fast as possible away from the perceived threat. That is great on the open prairie, but in the rocky crags that can be a disaster because the horse may run off the side of the mountain or over the cliff. A donkey, on the other hand, is sure-footed in the rocky crags and when scared or threatened their instinct is to stop and try to get into a defensive position. This reaction is why they are considered stubborn sometimes. It also makes them much safer in the rocks, and after they have carefully observed the situation they will slowly move on.
It seems to me that these two different animals may have something to say to us about the Christmas season. Sometimes I think we tend to be more like the horse as we prepare for Christmas. It is a full out gallop trying to keep family and practice going while trying to get from store to store to get all the presents purchased. And we mustn’t forget all the parties we must run to and all the school plays. Then there are all the cookies and candy that must be made, along with the food preparation for that family Christmas dinner. We also must get the Christmas cards addressed and mailed out, and get to all the special church services. We run so hard and long we forget what Christmas is all about and end up going over the cliff of exhaustion or off the mountain of Christmas debt.
Maybe we need to be like that donkey and when we feel the pressure to run, just stop and evaluate what is important. Is it the presents, the parties, the programs, the food, the cards or special services? Perhaps when we stop we will remember the real reason for the season. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 (NIV) This Christmas season, be a donkey