(a short fiction [or nonfiction?] story by Timothy J. Verret)
I was doing my usual “wilderness walking” today when I encountered something (or someone?) strange. It was a donkey in the woods. As I am never prone to call an animal an “it,” I did wonder if the donkey was a “he” or a “she.” And as God has blessed me to be able to speak to every animal, I had no problem asking this question of the donkey. I also wanted to know what the donkey was doing out in the wilderness.
“Hi, my donkey friend,” I said, “Are you a ‘he’ or a ‘she?”
“Does it matter anyway?” the donkey asked.
“Of course it matters, because you are not an ‘it’ to me. I call all my animal friends by their gender and most definitely by their name.”
“I am a He, and my name is Jesus.”
“Okay, well it is very nice to meet you, Jesus, but I do wonder why are you in the wilderness? I have never in my life encountered a donkey in the wilderness.”
“I am here because My Father sent me away from my previous master who beat me all the time and forced me to carry so many things on my back.”
“I am so happy that your Father sent you away from this master who sounds just horrible,” I said with tears streaming down my face. “I can promise you that I will never beat you or force you to carry anything on your back again.”
“There has been only One Man that I have ever allowed on my back, and His Name was also Jesus,” said the donkey.
“How interesting. You allowed a man named Jesus to get on your back and your name is also Jesus. What happened to that Man named Jesus?” I asked.
“They put him on a cross and crucified Him. I was there when it happened. That is why I have this cross on my back.”
“Is it okay if I approach you?” I asked Jesus. “I want to see that cross on your back.”
Jesus motioned me closer and, yes, indeed was there a cross on his back. It was of a rainbow color and it was simply beautiful.
“Will the cross ever fade away?” I asked Jesus.
“Never!” he replied. “It will stay on my back in remembrance of the One I truly loved and will always love.”
“It sounds like BOTH of you were quite a pair.”
“I’ve been looking for another One who I can truly love and will always love. Do you think it could be you?” Jesus asked.
“I would be so honored, Jesus, to be the One you truly love and will always love. I spend most of my time walking in this wilderness and talking to all the animals, so I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“That is so interesting that you just said that. The One I truly loved and will always love used to tell me that very thing. He said it was in some book in some chapter in some verse.”
“I know it quite well, Jesus,” I said. “The Book is the Bible and it’s in Chapter 13 of Hebrews and it is verse 5.”
“You think you might come here often and read that Book to me?” asked Jesus.
“Of course I will,” I said. “Every day for as long as you live and to the Very End of the Age.”
I moved even closer to Him and put my arms around Him.
“There, there, Jesus,” I said with tears streaming down my eyes, as well. “There won’t ever be another One like you. I can tell you that much. You must take heart, as I have overcome all things in this world that might try to beat you or make you carry things on your back. You will always find me ‘wilderness walking.’”
“Thank you so much. By the way, you never told me your name. What is your name?” Jesus asked.
“I AM JESUS!”
(picture by photographer, Vince Gx, available for free without copyright laws at: https://unsplash.com/photos/33DJx0Yb2cA)