Looking for Donkeys

On Sunday I heard a message that inspired me. The text was 1 Samuel 9 – the story of how Saul unexpectedly came to discover God’s ultimate purpose and perfect plan for his life. If you’re anything like me, this is something I want to discover in my life.

God had a perfect plan to place an imperfect person in a position of great influence and importance. Physically, Saul was tall, dark and handsome (literally) but in terms of leadership potential, that was about it. He lacked confidence, resolve, courage, and was a bit of a whiner (a lot like me except for the tall, dark, and handsome part). Not only that, Saul was from an ordinary family an insignificant clan from the tiny tribe of Benjamin. In Saul’s culture, birthright, lineage, and position were huge factors.

So here’s the reader’s digest version of the story and a few questions that I hope will make you think.

Saul’s father owned some donkeys that were missing. He asked Saul to take one of the servants and find the donkeys. So off they went. The first day they searched the mountains of Ephraim and the area surrounding the city of Shalisha to no avail. The next day they criss-crossed the district of Shaalim and hunted through the territory of Benjamin – still no donkeys. The third day found them lost and “donkey-less” in the land of Zuph. Saul was ready to return home to his father. He feared his father would stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about them.

When Saul told his servant that he wanted to go home, his servant (who should have just said, “Yes, sir”), told Saul about a man of God in this city who might be able to help them. Saul reminded the servant they had no food, money, or gift to give the man of God (it was customary to offer compensation to a prophet for his help). Saul’s servant was expecting the unexpected. He produced a quarter of a shekel of silver and gave it to Saul.

Question: When you feel that you have nothing left to offer, can you believe that God will still provide for you in unexpected ways?

On their way into town, they met some young women and asked if they knew where to find the man of God. They did - he was in town and just ahead of them. Saul and his servant hurried into town and encountered Samuel (the prophet) as they were entering the city.

Here’s where the story gets interesting. The day before, God told Samuel that he would send the man who was to be the king of Israel to Zuph from the land of Benjamin. When Samuel saw Saul, God let him know that Saul was the chosen one.

Picture this - as they greet each other, Samuel is most likely in a state of awe as he reverently beholds God’s providential choice for the first king of Israel. At the same time, Saul is hoping his servant’s quarter shekel of silver is enough to convince Samuel to help him find his donkeys.

Question: Are you expecting the unexpected from God and looking for his best in your life or are you obsessed with finding donkeys?

Much to Saul’s surprise, Samuel told Saul that the donkeys had been found and then invited Saul and his servant to be his guests for the evening. Saul was surprised by the invitation, the unexpected dinner, the seat of honor at the table of influential people, the prime cut of meat, the private audience with Samuel, and the royal treatment and accommodations he received. The next morning Samuel anointed Saul the future king of Israel.

Question: Are you aware that God wants to feed and fill you and provide you with a place of rest, refreshment, and restoration – and that He wants to pour the anointing oil of his love on you and reveal the place of purpose, meaning, fulfillment, influence, and leadership for which you were created?

This is really a story of how God orchestrates circumstances to put his perfect plan into motion. Saul was about to become the first king of Israel – and he thought he was looking for donkeys.

There’s nothing wrong with looking for donkeys. But never forget that with God, anything can happen. Something much bigger may be happening while you’re looking for those donkeys. An entirely new beginning may be just around the bend. Don’t miss what God is doing in your life. Expect the unexpected.


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