Shake It Off and Step Up – The Lesson from an Old Mule

November 19

A friend of mine has taken a sabbatical from listening to the news. He just needed a break! Hearing about all the craziness and uncertainty left him in an emotional pit.  The more he heard, the more it felt like the pit was closing in on him and he needed some hope.

It reminded me of a sermon illustration I once used to illustrate one of my favorite Bible verses, Romans 8:28. You may recognize this story from when I shared it here a year ago: I thought it was still so timely it was worth sharing again! See if you catch the correlation and the application for TODAY.

There was farmer who owned an old mule. One day, the mule fell into the farmer’s well.  The farmer heard the mule braying (or whatever mules do when they fall into wells).

After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving.  Instead, he called his neighbors together, told them what happened, and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

Initially, the old mule was hysterical!  But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling, and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him.  It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, he should shake it off and step up on the new layer of dirt!

This he did, blow after blow.  “Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up!”  He kept on repeating this phrase to encourage himself.  No matter how painful the blows or distressing the situation seemed, the old mule fought panic and just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up. Further and further up the old mule climbed as he shook off each new load of dirt.

It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well.  What seemed like it would bury him actually blessed him – all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.

What’s the correlation with Romans 8:28? Well, see for yourself:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” – Romans 8:28 (NLT2)

If you are a Christian with God-honoring values today, it can feel like shovel loads of dirt are being thrown at you. But, if we understand this verse, we can know that God is able to take the very things that are meant to destroy us and use them for our good! In light of that, we are called to face our problems and respond to them positively, refusing to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity.  The adversities that come along to bury us usually have within them the potential to benefit and bless us.  Remember that forgiveness, faith, prayer, praise, and hope all are excellent ways to “shake it off and step up” out of the wells in which we find ourselves!

Please check our new Facebook Group called Rhode Island Informed Parents and join us. We want to “step up” to the challenges we face in Rhode Island, and you can help do that. Two donors have generously donated $13,500 to make a Thanksgiving Matching Gift Challenge. Help us double that gift with your donation today: let’s Step Up together for Rhode Island!

Thankful for You,

Dave Aucoin
Chairman, Board of Directors – Rhode Island