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Posts Tagged ‘donkey’

I wonder if you have ever experienced one of those weird moments in your life when, with one glimpse of something or one whiff of a familiar perfume, you find yourself transported back through the years in an instant. There you are, a child again in a place or situation you had thought was long forgotten.

Recently, in order to entertain a fourteen year old visitor and his ten year old sister, I decided to check through our board games. Some date back to my own childhood—Snakes and Ladders and Ludo and Fairyland and Motor Race on fragile pieces of folded cardboard, held together in spots by yellowing sticky tape. And our ancient Monopoly game, bequeathed to us by an old friend of my parents and complete with currency in English pounds. And yes, the little silver top hat, boot, racing car and ship my sister and I used to fight over are still there too.

P1030981In the end, I put all these aside. This is 2014—no doubt my visitors would prefer a game on their mobile phones or Ipads. But I couldn’t resist showing them two classic old card games from my childhood years, the boxes now held together with rubber bands. I was sure ‘Donkey’ would be beneath them, but, to my surprise, they were intrigued. In fact, they played three games and were quite chuffed when they avoided that dreaded donkey card! And they were even more intrigued when I showed them my old ‘Comic Families’ card game, with cartoon-style drawings of Pa Lather (the barber), Pa Bones (the butcher), Pa Snips (the tailor) and Pa Chalk (the milkman), among others!

As I sat dealing those dog-eared cards, I remembered the hours spent playing with them in my growing up years. How long ago that was! Many years later, our own children had played with these same cards, then later still, our two older grandchildren. And what had happened to me personally since those early, innocent childhood days in Brisbane? So many, many things I would never, ever have envisaged.

God was there for me throughout all those early years, I reflected then, knowing what lay ahead and drawing me close, even when I was unaware of it. God reached out to me when I was fifteen, so that I came to experience Jesus’ love for myself. God watched over me in the ensuing years, not letting me stray too far and always, always calling me back. And God showered me with grace and continued to deepen my faith, even when I thought I knew it all in later years. God loved me so much as that little girl way back then who played those games with her sister and rarely won. And God loves me just as much now, I realised, as I held those same old cards in my hand.

Games come and go. Things change. People change. But God remains the same, so faithful and so loving through all the ups and downs of our lives. How truly blessed we are!

Praise the Lord, all your nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Psalm 117

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I’m very privileged. Every week, I get to play quite a few games with our granddaughter – always an interesting experience. First off this week it was an old card game called ‘Donkey’. In fact, our particular pack has my maiden name on it in my mother’s handwriting – my sister and I used to play with this very same pack as children. The cards themselves are quite thick and worn around the edges. Some have dirty fingerprints on them – and one in particular is quite creased. Yes, you guessed it – it’s the card with the donkey on it!

Now my granddaughter might be only four years old, but she isn’t silly. She has worked out that firstly, if only two of us are playing and she herself doesn’t have the donkey, then chances are her nanna does! Secondly, she’s beginning to know the back of that donkey card and now studiously avoids plucking that particular one out of my hand. So needless to say, I am often left with it at the end, much to Olivia’s delight! This week, she proudly told her father: ‘Nanna’s always the donkey!’

Sometimes, however, Nanna has to put a bit of creative effort into achieving this result. Just as Olivia is good at avoiding the donkey card, I am equally skilled at doing the opposite! I have become adept at groaning in mock horror when I see what card I have chosen, while Olivia grins and looks very pleased with herself! I don’t always ‘let’ her win games – but with this particular one, I figure she enjoys it so much I can afford to pretend to be a little sillier than I really am. It doesn’t matter – I think my ego can handle it.

Yet on other occasions, I cringe at the possibility of making a fool of myself. After all, the stakes are so much higher in real life. What if no one likes my latest novel? What if it dies a lingering death on the bookstore shelves – or more likely on the bargain ‘throw-out’ table? What if when I present that writing workshop, someone there knows so much more than I do and challenges my assertions? What if I speak somewhere and misquote Scripture or just don’t hit the mark?

Well, I am slowly learning it’s not going to kill me to walk the humble road, to be the ‘donkey’ and say or write something that may well be laughed at. God knows my heart, after all. And then I remember how Jesus endured so much more scorn and derision than I ever will, even to the point of death – and all for our sake. Matthew 27 describes how he was ‘set up’ by a whole company of soldiers, stripped, dressed up as a king, complete with crown of thorns, then mockingly ‘worshipped’. Worse still, they spat on him, took the staff they had given him and hit him with it, time and time again. This shameful saga ends with one simple, chilling sentence: Then they led him away to crucify him. (Matt 27:31b)

I want to learn to live my life with that sort of humility. I want to get rid of my pride and not be so concerned about what people think. So perhaps ending up with the donkey as I play with my granddaughter is all part of preparing me for the bigger challenges of life, of showing me that in the end, nothing really matters except what God says about me.

What do you think? Could God speak through old card games?

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