In the final page of Tim Keller's book Center Church, Tim retells a parable-like story he once read in a Christian magazine. The final pages feel like a personal commissioning. He recognizes the work ahead in ministry is inspiring but impossible. In this blog I have rewritten this short parable that captures how yes, it is impossible, but with God all things are possible:
A donkey swaggers into the marketplace. His large nostrils point up higher than usual as he dreams of the events of yesterday. He plops down on his hindquarters in the middle of high traffic pedestrians. "I'm heeeeorr!" the donkey shouts in the midst of the hustle and bustle. Confused shoppers stare at this ridiculous site. They walk pass, some plugging their noses because of this foreign beast of burden. Thinking he hadn't spoken loud enough, the donkey shouts louder, "I'm heeeeooor!"
The crowd grows impatient. "What are you doing here, you donkey, walking up in here like this?" A passerby slaps the donkey to get him up and out. But the donkey will not be broken saying, “Throw your garments down! Don't you know who I am?" The crowd stops and stares in confusion, but quickly move on to their list of important things to buy.
Confused himself, the donkey waddles back home. "I don't understand," the donkey explains to his mother, “yesterday they were shouting 'Hosanna!' and 'Maranatha!' and today they treat me like I am a nobody.” Hurt and surprised by this turn of events the donkey asks, "What am I doing wrong?"
The mother quickly responds with soft words of eternal assurance and firm rebuke, "Foolish donkey, don't you know that without him- you can do nothing!"
With the installation service completed, and the work ahead, the daily reminder is that by myself, this ministry is impossible. Any ministry is impossible. But the work is only effective and powerful when the Lord is working through us. This life is not about us. It's about Jesus and the throne he sits on. Our talents, gifts, strengths, abilities, things, programs, homes, cars, careers, callings, family, churches- all these things are given to us in order be used to advance God's reputation. Don't you know that without him- you can do nothing?