When it came to making little ones tremble in their tennies in the tiny rural school set like a jewel in the middle of farmland and ranches, Principal/Head Teacher Brown was an expert. He needed only to look at the youngsters.

With more than thirty years’ experience, Brown had perfected The Look. Elementary kids decided the icy, unrelenting stare was as powerful as God’s when he turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt.

Brown’s two elementary teachers on playground duty watched in envy. Just with a look, the educator stopped a second grader who was pulling himself upright on the porch railing.

“Sorry Mr. Brown. I was just playing walk the plank—like a pirate. I won’t do it again. I promise!”

The children knew the rules at school. They followed them. Even the older students knew what to do when Principal Brown gave an order.

“Yes sir, right away!” pre-teen Kenny responded in the mixed class of older students. He grabbed his paper, pencil, and book and began the assignment listed on the board. Sassy words and attitudes were strictly forbidden. Brown taught them respect for themselves, others, and himself.

But on the weekend, Principal Brown became Rancher Brown. His role changed and so did his subjects. All of the four-legged critters knew the rules and followed directions— except one, Jenny. The mule had to be persuaded to go anywhere or do anything. She had her own ideas.

“Jenny, aaay-yupp, time for a road trip.” Brown looped her halter over her ears. The furry antennae twitched with displeasure. He snapped on a lead rope and began walking to the trailer, “Gid-up!” But she didn’t. The rope grew taut with a thousand pounds of attitude at one end.

“Come on, now, Jenny, I haven’t forgotten what you like.” She nuzzled the pocket of his vest. He pulled out a butterscotch candy and she eagerly mouthed it from his hand. But that’s where her interest stopped. She locked her legs as he tried to coax her forward. No deal. One candy wasn’t going to do it.

Brown called over two of his hands. All three men worked up a sweat pushing and pulling, but couldn’t get Jenny to move.

Brown tightened the lead rope and sighed as he pulled out another golden-colored candy. Jenny came forward one more step. She was determined it was going to be her way. Another candy, another step.

As Jenny followed the yellow disc road, Brown finally her got her to walk inside the horse trailer so he could close the doors. He mopped the sweat from his face and let out a breath, “That’s one animal that needs to learn how to follow directions!”

God’s commandments—or directions— are infused into both the Old and New Testaments as much a part as salt and paper in a stew.

They are included often and familiar to many. Beginning with Exodus 20:1: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

All of the commands weave together directions for a good life. They are timeless.

From Jesus’ original twelve disciples come these words of John: “This is how we know that we love the children of God; by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God; to obey his commands.” [1 John 5:1-2 NIV].

As you look over your journey and your path, are you following directions willingly or, like Butterscotch Jenny, do you have to be persuaded?

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, buttontogod.dev. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

About Jo Russell

Jo’s humor, inspirational stories, articles and devotionals have spanned more than 40 years, with several national writing contest awards for humor. She's a contributing author in Chicken Soup for the Soul—Shaping the New You and Heavenly Humor for the Dieter’s Soul.

Contact Jo

Find Jo on Twitter and Facebook. To schedule Jo as a speaker or to discuss your writing project and receive a free quote, call her at 928-536-2479. Or contact her using the website Contact Form.

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