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Crossroads of the Marine Corps

“Shake It Off and Step Up”

19 May 2016 | LCDR Daniel Whitaker, Reserve Chaplain for Headquarters & Service Battalion Marine Corps Base Quantico

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was too old and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth the effort to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed shovels and began to shovel dirt into the well, burying the animal.

Realizing what was happening, the donkey at first cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down into the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each load of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake the dirt off his back and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the now-filled well and happily trotted off!

From time to time, life is going to kick us into a hole and shovel some dirt on us. Maybe we fell into the hole by accident. Perhaps we were even pushed into the hole. Some of us enthusiastically jumped in with both feet – it looked like a good idea at the time. Maybe we have no idea how we ended up in a hole.

But no matter how we ended up so deeply in trouble, and no matter who is shoveling dirt onto us in our time of greatest need, the trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Our troubles should be viewed as a stepping stone, as an opportunity to grow and build character. We can get out of the deepest hole just by never giving up!

The Bible tells of a young man named Joseph who found himself at the bottom of a pit, literally thrown into a deep hole by his jealous brothers and left to die. Yet Joseph retained his trust in the Lord and was given strength to endure until he was rescued. Just when his life was looking good, he was thrust down into the depths of the Earth again, falsely accused and given a life sentence in Pharaoh’s dungeon. Through his continued faith, “the Lord was with him, and made all that he did prosper” until Joseph found himself second in command over all of Egypt! Many times, we’ll need the encouragement of the Lord to shake off the dirt piling up on our backs.

So, if you fall into a hole and get some dirt thrown on you this week, just remember to “shake it off and take a step up!”
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