Penny and the talking donkey


“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  – Joshua 1:9

I’m a wimp. It’s true. Water, heights, going blind, the dark, going too fast. If there is something to be afraid of, I fear it. If there is a possibility that anything could go wrong, I will have already imagined it. This is especially true when things are out of my control.

My family went to Tennessee this summer, and we were able to take my niece Vivian with us. Rather than just winging it when we got there, we had a plan mapped out of some of the things we wanted to make sure we did during the trip. Dollywood, ziplining and horseback riding were on the list.

I had been horseback riding before, but I believe it was on our honeymoon, so that was 16 years ago. I was excited for Noah and Vivian to experience this since neither of them had done this.

However, as we drove to Big Rock Riding Stables, I started feeling anxious. What if I fall off the horse? What if the horse decides it doesn’t want to follow everyone else anymore? What if it isn’t defiant, but just dumb and doesn’t know he is supposed to stay with the group? My mind filled with questions like that.

Not to mention worrying these same things about Noah and Vivian.

We all were given our horses. They were each named after states, and my horse was Pennsylvania, but she went by Penny, which I found comforting, since that was my mother’s name.

The guy giving me my horse assured me Penny is an old horse, who will go slow and easy.

New fears. What if Penny decides she has had enough. She is overworked and tired of it. There is very little separating Penny and me from careening down the side of the hill if Penny decides life is no longer worth living.

As I’m fearing all of these things and more, God began to calm my heart. He reminded me of Balaam.

In Numbers 22 you can read about him. Balaam is an oracle, who told the future, and gave out blessings and curses, sometimes for money.

That is the situation in chapter 22. He was hired to curse a group of people, and the price was right. Fast-forward a few verses. So he gets on his donkey and they take off down the road, with the desire of money in his heart. On his way, his donkey saw an angel of God holding a sword in the middle of the road. The donkey veers of the road toward a field. Smart donkey. Balaam beats her. A little further down, the donkey sees the angel again, and this time it is on a narrow path, with vineyards on each side. She scoots close to the wall, squishing Balaam’s leg, to get away from the angel, and Balaam beats her again. Then the third time she sees the angel, the donkey just drops to the ground, refusing to go. He beats her a third time. Then verse 28 says this, “Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?'”

To get Balaam’s attention, God caused the donkey to speak. Wow.

It was here that God reminded me that He made Penny. He had complete control over Penny. If He wanted Penny to speak, He could make her speak, so He certainly could make her stay on the path if that’s what He wanted.

I’d like to say I relaxed completely the rest of the ride and enjoyed it, but I’d be lying. I was definitely calmer, but I was certainly glad to see the stables at the end.

God did teach me something during that ride, something of which He has often reminded me.

I don’t have to be afraid. He has everything under control. That is so comforting when I remind myself of this, or when God reminds me of it. Nothing is too big, hard, small, unimportant, for Him to handle.

Whether it’s a horse, health, job, relationship, finances – He’s got it. I hope that’s comforting for you too.

Whatever your situation, God is bigger. I’m glad He keeps reminding me.

BTDubs – This is Penny, followed by Shawn, Noah and Viv with their horses 




About Jen Chapman

She is a wife to Shawn for 22 years and counting, and a mom to Noah, and together they live out their story in their tiny town of Barboursville, WV. She is a freelance writer and a blogger at Flowers, bookstores, and people are what make her smile. She has seen God’s grace redeem her big-time and wants everyone to know it and experience it for themselves. She wants more than anything to give praise and honor to Jesus, and point people to Him.

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