One Size Does Not Fit All

My donkeys spend their lives on soft pastureland with plenty to eat, which means they need their hooves trimmed every couple of months. Observing my two donkeys during their recent hoof trimming reminded me how there are no “one size fits all” solutions for learning trust. Christian or donkey—admittedly, it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference—we each learn at our own pace. We each have a unique learning curve.

Magic, who is the larger and more mature of the two, follows me without a halter or lead rope. Having been with me at the Cross-Dubya for over six years, he knows I will never harm him. When the farrier arrives, they lead him easily wherever they want him to go. He relaxes as they trim all four hooves; and then he nonchalantly makes his way back to the barn or pasture. I call him my “Matthew 11:29 donkey.” Bubba and Ryan, our farriers, always trim Magic first. They do so in full view of his girlfriend; hoping she learns from his example.

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After what seems like just a few minutes, Magic’s hooves are all trimmed, shaped, and he’s ready for his next adventure. What comes next is the reason my farrier friends earn every penny of their wages. I recognize my little Amiatina donkey, Elpis (the Hebrew word for “hope”), is at least 10 years younger than Magic, and she is still learning to trust. We’ve been trimming Magic for three times as long as Elpis. In that time, he has accepted and trusts the process. Elpis is my “Acts 7:51 donkey”, as she is one stiff-necked little gal.

It all begins with having to corner her in a stall, then working to get a halter placed. As gentle and patient as Ryan and Bubba are, when a donkey doesn’t trust you, bad things can happen. As soon as we snap the lead rope to the rope halter, the fun begins. It becomes a battle of wills that often involves ropes around her hindquarters and tied around her feet. To move her into place, one leads while the others pull by using the rope around her backside to coax her to walk. When a 450-pound donkey doesn’t want to move, it takes a bit of persuasion.

Once in position, it takes a few minutes for the attempted kicking and biting to subside. Elpis settles down some too. Sometimes we have to use a rope on her leg to lift and hold it in position. Shifting her weight from one side to the other makes it impossible to lift her foot off the ground and trim the hoof; the rope unbalances her and she relents.

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Even though she is smaller than Magic, it takes two or three times as long to trim Elpis’ hooves because of how much she resists the process. It isn’t because she’s a bad donkey, and we’ve never mistreated her. I think it’s a case of she is still learning to trust. Remembering back to the first few times Mr. Bubba trimmed Magic, I can recall some of those same reactions. I also remember how Magic’s mama (Molly) was the calm one that always got trimmed first. Within the first few trims, Magic settled nicely into the routine. With Elpis, while she is getting a little better with each visit, we’re over two years and counting.

In time, I’m certain Elpis will come to accept being trimmed as a common occurrence and she’ll settle down. Until that time, we’ll be patient, gentle, caring, and CAREFUL. As you look around your “family of faith”, note those “Magic” people and those more like “Elpis.” Then look for ways to bring them together so we can help reduce the learning curve for those coming behind us.

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will
find rest for your souls.”
(Matthew 11:29, NKJV)

God’s blessings,

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52 thoughts on “One Size Does Not Fit All

  1. You are so right – we each have our own unique learning curve depending on our past experiences and beliefs. May we have patience with those who are still learning to trust – including ourselves!

  2. Praying I am mature enough to be patient and to help younger Christians as they come along behind me.

    Blessings!

  3. Are you calling me a donkey, Mr. J.D.? Lol

    I’ve had my share of those symptoms.

    I’m wondering out loud here. Would retaining Magic next to Elpis for awhile, rather than turning him loose, aid the younger to mimic the older?

    1. LOL Mr. Warren. I think we all have some of these same tendencies in us sir; I’m certain I do. We’ve tried that, and interestingly enough, it only served to get Magic upset and unsettled.

  4. We are told that the older men are to teach the younger men and the same with the women. Elpis, like many teenagers, reject the wise council then wish with regret years later.
    Great life lesson from the Cross-Dubya!

  5. May we be made lovingly aware of the Magics and the Elpises around us in God’s kingdom, J. D. Trust is learned, isn’t it? And if God can be patient with us, we should also be patient with others.
    So happy and blessed to be back home and able to read/respond to blogs again. Thanks so much for your prayers for healing, my friend. They have been answered!
    Blessings!

  6. Your ranch sounds like a magical place with all the love, trust and learning that goes on. Your stories brighten my day as well as making me think more about my faith. I pray to be a Matthew 11:29 Christian. God bless

    1. Aww; thank you Ms. Yvonne. I’m not too certain it’s magical, but I know that God knows the address ma’am. As for Matthew 11:29; I too am reaching for that goal. God’s blessings ma’am

    1. So very true Ms. Melissa. A dear friend once shared a wise thought with me; “Let no one find out that I was a Christian at my funeral.” We must live it out each day, unashamedly my friend. Thank you!

  7. How wonderful to see this example. To be ‘trimmed’ for the work ahead and God knows we sure fight it often. Perhaps we will learn to trust Him in all our ways and amen.

    1. Yes ma’am, Ms. LuAnn. There certainly is ma’am. Just praying God gives all of the patience we need to extend His kindness and grace to her and other “donkeys” in our lives like her.

  8. I resemble Elpis on occasion. Trust can be a hard thing when you’re scared of a possible bad outcome. The only way I make progress is through prayer. Prayers for Elpis and for us all to trust God more and to worry less. A great lesson from the Cross-Dubya! God bless you, Mr. J.D.! ❤️

  9. I know it’s not funny but the picture you depicted made me smile a little at the battle you endured. I do hope Elpis will settle down and let what is good for her be done. This is a great way to show us how we can resist God when He only wants the best for us. Thanks J.D. and may the next pedicure be more blessed!

    1. Thank you Ms. Barb. It seems to get a little better with each time, but she is certainly taking her time. It’ll be worth it though when I watch her stand idle and comfortable as Mr. Ryan does his work for many years to come. Living to be 40 years old, or more, I know she’ll out-live me, and my prayer is that she is fully gentled and easy to care for with her next owner. And, of course, her next owner is as patient with her and God has been with me.

  10. I am amazed at the lessons you glean from watching your friends on the ranch. More so, I appreciate that you share them with us all! I pray I become more submissive the Lord’s process as I continue on in my walk with Him – trusting Him to care for me as He knows best. I also pray I will become more patient with others, letting God do the work in them as He knows best and in His time. They are beautiful donkeys who have brought needed lessons for us all! Blessings, J.D.

    1. Thank you Ms. Joanne. I share those same desires and goals with you ma’am; that God help me to become more attuned to what He wants for my life and more willing to allow Him to do His work in me. God’s blessings ma’am.

  11. I can be as stiff-necked as Elpis when I let that old nemeses, Pride, get ahold of me. Thankful that our God is as patient with me as your farriers are with your immature donkey. Slowly I’ve learned to trust Him and love Him so much for never giving up on me.

    1. Ms. Candyce, I assure you ma’am, that as I read your tremendous writing and listen to the faith lessons you share, God is doing a mighty work in and through you ma’am. Thank you so much for all your encouragement ma’am.

  12. I love the Scriptural characterizations for these little donkeys, J.D. It’s a creative way to illustrate how much more God can accomplish with us if we just trust Him–and with less expenditure of time and energy .Your creative and insightful picture brought to mind all those times God has had to throw with a couple of ropes around me. Hopefully, it’s slightly less of a struggle now than it was in some of the earlier periods of my life. The encouraging thing is that He willingly, and patiently, keeps at it until He gets the job done. A bunch of distracting stuff made me late getting to my visit to the Cross-Dubya this week, but as always, I am blessed and inspired to have gotten here. Trust is a powerful thing, and it’s sad that some put up such a struggle before we realized how much better life could be with it than without it.

    1. Right there with you Mr. Ron. God has had to hit me with two wraps and a hooey so many times my friend, He almost does in instinctually. Like you, I’m hoping that God continues to be just a bit more patient with me. I’m learning, but recognize I’m a S-L-O-W learner indeed sometimes. And never worry about when you show up for a visit my friend, I’m always smiling whenever you do sir. Thank you; and God’s blessings sir.

  13. We certainly have a few Elpis folks in our family! Thanks for a cute story and good lesson from Magic and Elpis. You have such a great story-telling gift and the gift of seeing God in these everyday events! Here’s Elpising that Elpis and we keep increasing in trust!

    1. I Elpis with you my creative friend. 🙂 Some parts of my family are famous for its stubbornness. I’m pretty sure it’s from my side. 🙂 Thank you for all your kind words ma’am. I’m truly blessed by all your encouragement and support.

  14. When I was young, we had two Guernsey dairy cows and my brother and I milked them morning and evening. Mine was reasonably gentle and seldom kicked me off my stool when milking. My brother’s cow was a different story. She had to be tied in a tight stall and the back hoof nearest the milker was tied back so she couldn’t kick us. I don’t think she ever improved. Perhaps the lesson for us was–continued patience is required throughout life. God continues to provide those lessons. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and giving me a chance to walk down memory lane.

    1. I pray it was an enjoyable stroll down your memory lane Ms. Katherine. Was this behind the family home you are refurbishing now? It’s been many many years since I milked a cow. Bottle fed a few in the past few years, but haven’t had to milk one in quite a while. I’m praying my Elpis takes after my Magic more than your brother Guernsey. 🙂

  15. Another powerful analogy with your ranch friends, J.D. I love the name Elpis and what it means and I had to smile when you said she was stiff-necked. I only know what it’s like to trim nails on dogs, but our pug used to be like wrestling a bull to do it. Now that he is older and learned to trust and he’s use to the process, he’s just as gentle as ever. I pray we trust God without hesitation for those of us walking with God for a good while. And we are examples to those who come after us.

    1. Amen Ms. Karen. And yes, some dogs can be more difficult than a donkey, but they don’t kick quite as hard. 😀 A handful all the same though. So glad you enjoyed the post ma’am. Thank you!

  16. My two dogs got muddy today. Their responses to being bathed emulated your donkey’s. Our son bathed them inside because it’s below freezing outside. My older dog Max patiently endured the bath. Strider flailed, trembled, and fought to escape during the whole bath. The benefits of walking with God through life is learning to trust Him. It’s more pleasant for both of us!

    1. Amen. How often I’ve flailed around while God has tried to gentle and trim me back so I can produce more fruit for Him. Praying your Strider learns to accept help as much as my Elpis does; and we both are learning to do. God’s blessings gentle friend.

  17. Your story is a good one, brother J.D. It reminds me of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 stubborn years. How sad that they all had to die out before God chose just a couple of them to go in and take the Promised Land from those squatters. Joshua and Caleb were like Magic–obedient to learn from God. May we all grow in obedience and trust so we can enter God’s Promised Land coming soon. Blessings!

    1. Amen; and thank you Ms. Karen. I’m sorry, but I can’t recall why typing here how many more years the wandered in the desert, but I loved how God rewarded the two who came back with a report based in faith that they could conquer and claim the land God had already given them. I sometimes wonder what God could’ve done with all those years I wasted fighting Him. I know it’s meaningless, as God will restore much more than was lost, but I somehow feel I should have done more for my Lord.

    1. LOL Ms. Sylvia. If you’re anything like me ma’am, I suspect a little of both. Am most certain however that the world sees much more Magic in you these days sweet friend. So very glad you and Mr. Phil survived that storm. God’s blessings ma’am.

  18. Elpis has certainly not learned the sentiments to the good ol’ hymn “Trust and Obey” it appears. While trust is earned, I think we are all still resistant at times to the things we don’t enjoy. I hope Elpis does but I can’t help but wonder if he will ever accept his trimming.
    I had a routine colonoscopy recently. I trust the doctor to do his job, but I sure did dread, cringe, and fight the preparation beforehand! I always will, too, IF I have another one.

    1. Unless the rapture comes my friend, you’re having another one. As the disciples were instructed to tell the man with the colt, “Jesus has need of you.” There are many things in life I don’t like to do; and yes, prepping for a colonoscopy is right up there on the list. Yet, I do it because I know that my momentary displeasure is far less than the suffering and pain would be if I didn’t undergo the potential life-saving procedure (yes, early detection is a life-saver). Oh wait; you already learned that lesson too didn’t you my friend. 🙂 I’d hate to think what my socks would look like if I never trimmed the toenails (admittedly, as I’ve gotten older it sometimes requires a skill saw with a metal-cutting blade). In my donkey’s case, painful issues such as foundering, hoof infections, and death can occur if her hooves are trimmed. If you will, imagine trying to walk on the side of your foot instead of its bottom. You’ll get the picture. I think you’re right now, we ne never look forward to God’s trimming in our lives, but we do come to accept it when we realize that from the trimming, God makes way for more abundant and richer fruit in our lives. God’s blessings precious friend; and remember one evening ever three-to-five years is much better than having no more years. 🙂

  19. It’s good to humbly consider how we all walk at a different pace, have various fears, and are faced with the challenge of learning to rally those who are hesitant to join in the circle of Believers. I sure do love being on the farm and meeting your dearly beloved animals, JD. Wonderful lesson here to show Jesus to be a safe and wonderful Savior who welcomes all!

    1. And we sure do love having you come for a brief visit each week here at the Cross-Dubya Ms. Mary. Thank you so much for your kind comments and faithful visits ma’am. Mavric always looks so forward to hearing of your visit.

  20. That Elpis! She’s somethin.
    We know the heart of her master and the heart of the farrier and Elpis will eventually learn to trust more. With continued love, gentleness, and patience she’ll come around eventually.
    Magic does a good job of setting an example for her just as we need to be examples for others, younger in the faith or for those who are simply harder-headed.
    This is a good lesson for all of us.

    1. Yes ma’am; she will. If you’ll remember, it took me three months to be able to touch her, and another three months (six months total) before she would take a treat from my hand. She’ll get there. Many think donkeys are “stupid” animals, but that’s truly the farthest thing from the truth. Honestly, they’re methodical thinkers and they don’t rush into anything except chasing away a perceived predator. And yes ma’am, we need to be that “Magic” example for many less mature Christians. Some of us can remember how hard fought some of the lessons that helped us mature in our faith was.

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