“As for your donkeys which were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found.” 1 Samuel 9:20 (partial) NASB
A man called Kish loses some donkeys. He sends his son Saul and a servant to go and look for them. They search for miles without luck and end up wondering if they should go home in case Kish stops worrying about the donkeys and starts worrying about them. But before they do, they seemingly quite randomly end up first consulting the Prophet Samuel about their journey. Unbeknownst to them, God has told Samuel that this young man is going to be the next King of Israel. The Lord tells him so in quite mighty and prophetic language, as you’d expect. When Samuel sees Saul and speaks to him, you’d think he would be full of that amazing prophecy and curious about the future king and so on.
But Samuel’s first concern is to put Saul’s mind at rest. He tells him that he will be fed, that he will have a place to stay for the night, that he will be told all he needs to know the next day, and that he can stop worrying about the donkeys. Does that blow your mind? It does mine. The man of God understands anxiety and worry. He knows that Saul is full of his task and that it is important to him.
Now, I am a first class worrier. I worry and I fret and I get anxious, I want to fix everything and I have a to do list a mile long in my head, most of which is impossible. Jesus telling me “do not worry” is probably the toughest thing he could ask. Worrying steals so much of my energy and my time, it verges on the ridiculous. Anxiety can actually be a really horrible thing, which is why I’m including it here in the Veil of Tears blog and why I will no doubt come back to it a few times.
Yet here is an Old Testament prophet showing us that God knows about the donkeys. He knows. He understands that they are taking up space in our heads. He wants us to know the score and that they are safe. Samuel doesn’t just say, don’t worry about them, he also says, because they have been found. Worriers need reassurance and facts to calm us down.
This is also reassuring to me because it shows that God cares about the things that distract us, about the things that loom large to us, however insignificant they might seem to others. It also shows us that there are old missions we can let go, that have run their course. I’ve known Christians (including myself) who have become miserable and distraught because of a quest they felt sent on many years ago not seeming to come about or bear fruit. Missing the boat is a feeling that sows guilt and sadness in our lives. But maybe in those cases we are looking at it all wrong. Maybe the Lord has already found those donkeys in our past and we can simply let them go. Maybe they were a way of bringing us to our Samuel.
Saul is a loyal son and he is not going to be able to concentrate on anything Samuel tells him whilst he has this quest on his mind. It shouldn’t really be a surprise to us that the one who made us understands totally how hung up we can get on the to do list, or the current problem, how much it can take over our consciousness. How uncaring we can make God in our minds sometimes! But the Lord loves to find the lost, as so many Bible passages tell us. Doesn’t this show us that he truly has it all in hand, that he can be taking care of it all: the worries, the future, the “chance” meetings, the mission ahead, who will be ruling the kingdom, the number of hairs on our heads and even those pesky donkeys, wandering about who knows where in the wilderness?
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;” J.R.R. Tolkein
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