One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.
As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
I came across the above story recently. While I had read it before some time ago, I found it to be quite inspiring and thought to use it as the basis of my column today to inspire those of you reading who may be facing some obstacles in life.
While this story may be fiction, it has such a great life lesson or moral; “Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping-stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.”
So what ‘well’do you find yourself in today? Are you feeling buried and on the verge of giving up? Here are some lessons that we can all learn from the story of the donkey:
1. It does not make sense crying and having a ‘pity party’ for ourselves
Sometimes when obstacles come our way many of us pitch a ‘pity party.’ We cry and feel sorry for ourselves and give up all hope. However, the time we spend worrying and crying can be time spent devising a plan to overcome the obstacles. The story tells us that the donkey cried horribly when he realized that everyone was throwing dirt on him and then to their amazement he quieted down. At that point the donkey must have realized that it didn’t make sense crying; crying was not going to make the farmer and his friends stop throwing the dirt or solve the problem in anyway. He then realized that he could use the obstacle of the dirt as a stepping-stone to help him push himself out of the well.
2. People may give up on you but keep pushing
After the donkey fell into the well and the farmer could not figure out what to do to get him out, he decided that the donkey was old anyway and it was not worth it to try and retrieve him. He basically gave up on the donkey. People may give up on you. They may figure that you are too old or useless or that you will never accomplish what you are trying to so it is not worth it for them to try and help you. Sometimes the only person that you can rely on is you. You must want something bad enough that you are willing to keep pushing yourself to achieve it.
3. Obstacles may be coming our way from all angles but we must be determined to succeed
The farmer invited his neighbours to help him shovel the dirt on top of the donkey in the well therefore dirt must have been coming from every angle. So it is in our personal lives, sometimes obstacles seem to be coming at us from all directions. We become overwhelmed, we feel like as soon as we make one step forward, we have to take three steps back. The more dirt that was thrown on the donkey, the more determined he was to find his way out, he continued to push, shaking the dirt off and using it as stepping-stones to climb higher.
We too must learn to use the ‘dirt’, those obstacles or troubles that life sometimes throws at us, as stepping-stones. As 2nd Corinthians 4:8-10 states,“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body;” we may have obstacles coming to us from every side but if we trust in God, we will not be distressed or in despair, we will not be destroyed. Our faith and determination will help us to succeed.
Whatever obstacle you may be facing today, remember it doesn’t make sense crying, people may give up on you and obstacles may continue to come from all directions but it is up to you to be like the donkey in the story, shake it off and push yourself up. Just as everyone was amazed when the donkey eventually stepped over the edge of the well and happily trotted off, so will everyone who knew your struggles be amazed when you succeed. Hang on in there, do not give up! Let your obstacles become your stepping-stones!