When Flash, the stray donkey, landed on our doorstep a few years ago I never dreamed that he would inspire life-changing principles that God would use for good in my life.
Can you believe that Flash taught me how to experience fruitfulness and blessing in the midst of drought?
Let me explain.
There is a Bois D'Arc tree just beyond Flash's pasture (Bois D' Arc is pronounced "bo-dark".......or just call it what we do: "Horse Apple Tree.") It grows gigantic green fruit that look like oversized tennis balls....when ripe, they come crashing to the ground with a huge thud. Hard as rocks, these fruits are inedible to people.....but donkeys and squirrels LOVE them.
Bit of advice: never park your car under a bo-dark tree.
Flash is one smart donkey. See, the fruit rarely falls INTO his pasture - it falls just outside it. But he's figured out that if he stands right up next to the fence by the tree, eventually someone will come along and toss a horse apple to him.
When he gets one, he wedges it into the ground and takes his big ol' donkey teeth and breaks off a mouthful. With juice dribbling out of his rubbery lips, he quickly polishes it off and then asks for more. What a glutton. A clever glutton.
Flash knows the power of positioning. He stands right where the fruit is falling and makes himself a nuisance available until someone sends a blessing his way.
I've often been reminded of Flash's instictive wisdom when I've experienced a "dry season," in which blessings have felt hard to come by. Maybe you're experiencing a kind of drought in your life as well. Here is what I've learned from my intrepid friend:
1. Look around for fruit.
What activities and pursuits are already producing fruit in your life? In which areas do you experience an extra measure of grace and joy when you're doing them, even if they aren't easy? By contrast, are there things that suck your energy and creativity? Identifying the fruitful areas already in existence helps me make decisions about what to keep and what to eliminate. Often, having too many "busy" things keeps me from finding the fruit.
For example, for many years I exclusively did decorative painting for clients for a living. It was hard work - hauling ladders and supplies all over the DFW area, being creative on the spot, having to hustle up projects constantly. But as often as I wanted to quit, I somehow felt an extra measure of grace each day - like a mantle on my shoulders that kept me going. In the past couple of years, I've felt that grace lifting, as if the fruitfulness inside me for that task was drying up. Simultaneously, I found more fruit in writing and in other forms of art. It was a confirmation to me of the Lord's leading me in a new direction....a new area of fruitfulness.
2. Stand where fuit is falling.
Maybe this goes without saying, but simply identifying the fruitful areas that you want more of is not enough. You've got to move yourself into the right position to receive the blessings.
It takes spiritual steps:
Prayer and Bible study
Spend time seeking God's guidance
It also means taking practical steps:
Filling out a job application, starting a new venture, improving your skills, taking a risk. You can't taste the fruit if you're not even in the same zip code. Take action to make something good happen.
For me, I've moved into a position for fruitfulness by completing my book proposal and sample chapters. I've focused on creating good content for my blog and other writing endeavors. I've had to make some sacrifices in other areas in order to create space for something new, but because I've been commiting each step to the Lord, there is blessing along the way. If fruit comes my way, I want to be ready to receive it!
Well, not ACTUALLY bray, but communicate. Ask for help, like Flash does. He lets us know he's there and exactly what he's after with his unmistakable fog-horn-like noise. We can't miss him or his message.
Maybe you are embarrassed or shy about communicating your goals and asking for help....but you shouldn't be. As easy as it is to toss a horse apple to a donkey, it is just as easy for the right person to help you reach your goals and your fruit. There is blessing in community - and the biggest blessings come when we find others to work with. God may have someone in mind who is just waiting for the opportunity to help you...but you've got to be willing to ask.
I feel foolish telling people about my dreams, but as long as I keep them to myself, they just remain wishes. Finding the right people to ask for advice and help has boosted my self-confidence and given me courage to take even more steps. Asking for help has opened doors and made possibilities happen.
4. Practice Gratitude.
Flash shows his thanks by rubbing his giant noggin on us in gratitude. He lets us pet him and fuss over him, while he sleepily leans into us and gives a contented sigh. His thanks is all we need to motivate us to continue blessing him with horse apples and attention.
Gratitude is an attitude of the heart that shines through your words and actions. Even when you don't "see" an abundance of blessings around you, find ways to give thanks for what you have. Gratefulness opens the way for more blessing, more opportunities to give to others, more fruitfulness. It takes your eyes off of your own needs and onto the One who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what you can ask or think.
For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous;
with favor You will surround him as with a shield. Psalm 5:12
How about you? How have you found blessing in the middle of drought? Are there practical steps that have helped you identify fruitfulness?
Update: the book proposal became a reality almost two years later!