Listen To Most Current
Grace Notes Archive
June 2021 (3)
May 2021 (5)
April 2021 (4)
March 2021 (5)
February 2021 (4)
January 2021 (5)
December 2020 (4)
November 2020 (4)
October 2020 (5)
September 2020 (4)
August 2020 (5)
July 2020 (21)
June 2020 (29)
May 2020 (28)
April 2020 (31)
March 2020 (5)
February 2020 (4)
January 2020 (5)
December 2019 (5)
November 2019 (3)
October 2019 (5)
September 2019 (4)
August 2019 (5)
July 2019 (4)
June 2019 (5)
May 2019 (4)
April 2019 (4)
March 2019 (4)
February 2019 (6)
January 2019 (4)
December 2018 (4)
November 2018 (5)
October 2018 (4)
September 2018 (4)
August 2018 (4)
July 2018 (3)
June 2018 (4)
May 2018 (4)
April 2018 (4)
March 2018 (4)
February 2018 (5)
January 2018 (4)
December 2017 (4)
November 2017 (5)
October 2017 (4)
September 2017 (5)
August 2017 (4)
July 2017 (4)
June 2017 (5)
May 2017 (4)
April 2017 (5)
March 2017 (3)
February 2017 (4)
January 2017 (3)
December 2016 (5)
November 2016 (4)
October 2016 (4)
September 2016 (5)
August 2016 (3)
July 2016 (4)
June 2016 (5)
May 2016 (4)
April 2016 (5)
March 2016 (4)
February 2016 (4)
January 2016 (5)
December 2015 (4)
November 2015 (4)
October 2015 (3)
September 2015 (4)
August 2015 (5)
July 2015 (5)
June 2015 (4)
May 2015 (5)
April 2015 (2)
March 2015 (4)
February 2015 (4)
January 2015 (5)
December 2014 (4)
November 2014 (5)
October 2014 (4)
September 2014 (4)
August 2014 (4)
July 2014 (5)
June 2014 (4)
May 2014 (5)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (4)
February 2014 (4)
January 2014 (5)
December 2013 (4)
November 2013 (5)
October 2013 (4)
September 2013 (4)
August 2013 (5)
July 2013 (4)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (5)
April 2013 (4)
March 2013 (4)
February 2013 (5)
January 2013 (4)
December 2012 (4)
November 2012 (5)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (4)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (4)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (4)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (4)
January 2012 (4)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (4)
October 2011 (4)
September 2011 (5)
August 2011 (4)
July 2011 (4)
June 2011 (5)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (5)
March 2011 (4)
February 2011 (4)
January 2011 (5)
December 2010 (4)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (6)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (4)
March 2010 (5)
February 2010 (4)
January 2010 (5)
December 2009 (5)
November 2009 (3)
October 2009 (6)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (5)
July 2009 (4)
June 2009 (4)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (4)
January 2009 (5)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (5)
October 2008 (4)
September 2008 (5)
August 2008 (4)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (4)
March 2008 (5)
February 2008 (1)
Grace Notes

Current Articles | Categories | Search | Syndication

BIBLICAL LESSONS FROM NATURE: THE MULE
by Philip Owen

            On the back wall of my office hangs a large framed portrait.  It is stark and dramatic in its simplicity; drawn in lead on a plain white background are the heads of two draft animals.  The tack they wear is so elaborate that you would expect it to be adorning Clydesdales.  But no, as you look at the drawing, a pair of mules stares back at you.  My wife purchased and framed the drawing for me many years ago.  I’d like to think she did so because I had admired it in her presence.  But I suspect it had more to do with a certain character trait in mules with which she felt I might identify.

            Mules have a reputation for stubbornness.  “Stubborn as a mule” is the proverb that leaps to mind when anyone encounters dogged, recalcitrant refusal to move or change opinions.  Mules are mentioned numerous times in the Bible in the context of beasts of burden or draft animals, with one exception.  In Psalm 32, David writes:  “Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include a bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you” (v. 9).

            God has kindly given us in the universally recognized character of a mule a dramatic example of a trait that we should eschew.  We should not confuse admirable determination and persistence with rebellious stubbornness.  The two share the quality of persistence, but the former is persistence in a good cause or for a proper reason, the latter in sinful rebellion.  My father told the story many times of two mules, Dick and Bob, that he and his twin brother worked on his boyhood farm.  They had driven a heavily-loaded wagon from the field back to the barn—or almost to the barn—when the mules stopped and refused to budge.  The boys yelled, they pushed, they pulled, they used even stronger means of persuasion.  But neither mule would move.  Finally, in desperation, Dad’s brother lit a fire underneath the two mules.  The ploy succeeded.  The mules moved—but only far enough so that the flames were underneath the wagon, which caught on fire.  The boys were able to put out the fire before much damage was done.  Eventually, they got the mules to the barn.

            The verse preceding our text sheds valuable light on the nature of stubbornness against which Scripture warns.  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (v. 8).  God is speaking.  He promises to give His children direction based on His perfect omniscience and wisdom and tempered by His infinite love and concern for us.  His instruction is not right a majority of the time.  His teaching is not factual most of the time.  They are unfailingly accurate every time, all the time.  At any and every moment, the Lord observes us.  He knows every possible path we might take.  Just north of our home is an intersection of two streets called “Five Points.”  It offers the traveler the typical choice of four directions in which to go, but once a fifth street began, or ended, at that intersection, making for a confusing and dangerous number of options.  Which street should I take?  Not only does the Lord know, but He promises to share with us that invaluable information.

            Because God is who He declares Himself to be and does what He promises to do, believers have every reason to expect spiritual success—unless we “be . . . as the mule.”  The terrible thing about stubbornness is that we resist and rebel against the perfect direction God has provided in His Word and through His Spirit.  GPS may lead us to the wrong place; God never does.  We are without excuse.  Even more terrible is the fact that our rebellion is simply defiance of God, who loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.   Stubbornness demonstrates the arrogance of self-will and brings the certainty of chastening.  A gentle horse may require no bit.  A stubborn mule must have one and is sure to feel the hard steel between its rebellious teeth and against its tender mouth.  Far better to recognize that God goes before us, leading us down the right path and to the right destination, and to follow willingly.  To rebel is to declare not that God has given no direction, not that we know best, but that we “have no understanding.”  Stubborn rebellion is abject foolishness.  A good and loving God will certainly chasten the mulish character out of His children.           

Actions: E-mail | Permalink

Previous Page | Next Page