In early 2000, as the economy flourished, author Rachel Ridge and her husband Tom initiated an art and mural business near Dallas, Texas. Tom had recently lost his job in the electronic manufacturing field and Rachel hoped to build on the skills and expertise she had gained earlier in a small craft business. It was time for something new and exciting.
For several years, the couple revelled in their success and in the opportunity to pursue their creative dreams. But then the housing bubble burst and “the revelling turned into reeling.” About that experience, Ridge writes, “It’s an odd thing when success turns to failure. Life looks a whole lot different when your mind is constantly concerned with questions like how will you pay your bills . . . and how will you make rice and beans remotely appealing until the next paycheck arrives.”
More difficult were questions of a spiritual nature. Ridge wondered why God had let them down just when they thought they were fulfilling his will by using the creative abilities he had given them.
One night after a disastrous day on the job in which it had dawned on them that they wouldn’t be able to pay their rent, Tom slammed on the brakes as they headed up the driveway. A donkey stared into the headlights. Rachel wanted to leave the mangy animal behind and get home so she could relax after a hard day, but Tom insisted that the beast would pose a threat to motorists if it wandered back on the road. So the lost, homeless donkey – whom they later named Flash – became a part of their lives and that of their three children.
With wry humor and transparency, Ridge gives readers a window into her family’s struggles and explains how God used Flash – an unlikely source! – to teach her spiritual lessons and to help her grow in love for and trust in her heavenly Father. Most of the chapters highlight a lesson she learned, such as “Remember your name: know whose you are; Know where to find refuge: true sanctuary is found in God alone; Your journey isn’t about fixing donkey problems: it’s about transformation.”
Ridge’s account of how Flash wandered off in a storm, got lost and was later found is both moving and insightful. As she waited at home in case the sheriff’s office phoned with a tip about Flash’s whereabouts, Ridge vaguely remembered a biblical account about missing donkeys. She discovered the story in the book of I Samuel. Donkeys belonging to Kish, the father of Saul, had wandered off. Kish sent Saul and a servant in search of them. Even as God orchestrated the safe return of the donkeys, he led Saul to the prophet Samuel – “a holy intersection, ” Ridge realized – since Samuel was on a mission from God to anoint Saul as Israel’s first king.
Experiencing an epiphany, Ridge understood that “Saul only thought this journey was about donkeys. But it was really about so much more.” God transformed Saul and gave him a new heart. Ridge saw with clarity that God had used Flash to transform her life. She writes, “We thought we were rescuing a donkey that night. But the reality is, God had sent a lost donkey to help rescue us.”
As Ridge pondered all she had learned from Flash, she acknowledged that God “uses the everyday parts of our lives to illuminate spiritual truths and to draw us close to him.” She encourages readers to hear and see God in the ordinary stuff of their lives and to realize that God, whom she asserts has a sense of humour, will enter our lives as he chooses, sometimes in the most extraordinary ways.
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