When you give a 3 year old a donkey tail

Hey everybody. Sorry I’ve been MIA for a little bit. There’s a new job (which I love), and there’s craziness of life and there’s uncertainty that breeds insecurity that says, “what am I doing with this blog anyway?” Well, I’m still not entirely sure if you really must know, but that discussion is for another time. Today, I have a story. So refill your coffee, cuddle up on the couch, take a quick break and lean in if you’re at the office — this is a good one.

Noland and I were driving back to Waco from Houston on Sunday, and we were talking about the mystery of trying to hear God’s direction in our lives and be obedient. We laughed about how there are probably a lot of things we “miss” and God probably just laughs at us, like, “That’s not exactly what I meant by that.”

In the midst of our mysterious conversation, our resolve was this: there’s something about having a heart that’s genuine in wanting to fully obey the words of God in our lives, so that if miss it, it falls under the umbrella of grace. God loves us, and He loves when we want to give everything to follow Him … thus, He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. I think what Paul forgot to add to that statement in his letter to the Romans was, “but sometimes He sits and laughs at what you just did for a while first.”

As Noland and I processed all of this together, I was reminded of something funny that happened to me in high school. My junior and senior years, I volunteered in the children’s ministry at our church, teaching a class of three and four year olds every other Sunday. It was a blast. I loved it so much that I moved up with my kids my senior year so I could keep the same ones. They taught me a lot about Jesus those two years.

If you’ve ever worked with three and four year olds before, you know that their little attention spans are just that — little. So we would make story time as interactive as possible to keep everyone interested. One Sunday, my co-teacher and I had the genius idea of letting the kids play different parts in the story. So story time came, and I began to pass out costume pieces. 

There was this kid in our class, Devon, who I loved so much. He was so stinkin’ sweet. He had these big ole dimples when he smiled. He was precious. Devon was going to be the donkey in our story that fateful Sunday morning, so I handed him his ears and tail and I turned to a little girl to help her with her costume.

Practical life lesson learned: don’t hand a three year old a donkey “costume” without giving VERY clear instructions on what to do with it, AND helping them execute said instructions. 

So about 30 seconds go by as I have my back turned to Devon, and I hear one of the little girls scream and point at him. I turn around, and no joke, this is what I saw: Devon, who knew exactly where that tail was supposed to go, has pulled down his pants and was squeezing it right between his little 3 year old butt cheeks. Hands on his hips, smiling ear to ear. I couldn’t even get mad because he was so proud, genuinely believing that was exactly what he was supposed to do. Devon was ready to be the best donkey the Strong Tower Bible Church children’s ministry had ever seen.

This was one of those moments frozen in time where if it was Saved by the Bell and I was Zach Morris, I would have turned to the camera to talk about what I should do next. Since there wasn’t a camera, though, and the only thing frozen was Devon standing there tall and proud, I turned to my co-teacher and said, “I’m gonna need you to handle this one.” I walked into the hallway and died laughing. I couldn’t contain it.

Obviously the tail was thrown away and it was explained to Devon that while we are so proud that he knows where that tail goes, that wasn’t what we meant, and it’s not OK to pull our pants down in class. How could I be upset, though? I handed him his costume, and he did exactly what he thought he was supposed to do with it! And he wasted no time doing it. I hand him the tail; 30 seconds later it is right where it goes.

I think sometimes I’m Devon in this story in my own life. God hands me something and I do it all wrong, even though my heart was to be obedient. But God doesn’t punish me, he just gently corrects me and points me in the right direction, and he probably laughs really hard sometimes in the process.

I want to release you to take a risk in obedience. If your heart is to please God and be obedient with the next thing He hands you, He will work it all together for your good, and for His purpose in your life.

There is grace for you, even if you have your donkey tail squeezed between your butt cheeks.

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