Give me a word, Lord: DON’T BLAME THE DONKEY

Numbers 22:28-35 Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam. “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted. Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him. “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.” Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.” But the angel of the Lord told Balaam, “Go with these men, but say only what I tell you to say.” So Balaam went on with Balak’s officials. 

I love the story of Balaam and his talking donkey. Everyone that knows me, knows that I love animals in a huge way. I talk to my animals all the time, and I think that some of them understand me. I know that my Bouvier des Flandres, Sophie, understands me. She is such a smart girl. My animals converse with me, but not with spoken words in English. They speak their animal barks, moos, and cock-a-doodle-dos. Sometimes, I know what they are trying to tell me, and I can almost hear what they are saying, but I’m no Dr. Dolittle. Life would be so much simpler down at the barn if the animals spoke English, and I know it would be a whole lot more interesting. Balaam had quite an interesting and eye opening experience with the only real life talking donkey.

The Moabites and Midianites were afraid. They knew about Israel’s victories, and they feared that they were going to be the next people over run by them. They wanted some supernatural help so they sought the assistance of Balaam. They knew who Balaam was, and they wanted him to come and curse the people of Israel. However, God told Balaam not to curse His people. Balak received word that Balaam said he could not come and curse the people, and he decided to sweeten the deal. He promised Balaam a lot of money. Balaam left on his donkey en route to deliver the cursing, but his donkey tried three times to stop him. First, the donkey went off of the road and into a field. Next, the donkey got too close to a wall and crushed the foot of Balaam against the wall. Finally, the donkey laid down on Balaam. At this point, Balaam became very angry and struck the donkey a third time. The funniest thing happened next. The donkey looked at Balaam and spoke. I could just hear the donkey saying, “Dude, what is wrong with you!”

I love this story because it is so unlike God, and it reminds us that God is in total control and that he has a sense of humor. He wants to communicate with us, and if we aren’t listening to His voice, He may just open the mouth of a donkey. God is so creative. God uses a variety of means to speak to us, and we must be willing to hear from Him. When God asks us to do something, He wants us to obey. Balaam started off on the right track. God told him not to go to curse the people of Israel, and he stayed put, but then the deal was sweetened. The enemy works this way. If he can’t win you over one way, he will come back to you again and again with a sweeter deal each time and try to break your resolve. Don’t fall for it. Continue to obey God, and don’t listen to the enemy.

Another thing to consider about this story, is that when we are walking (or riding a donkey) outside of the will of God, many times He will put up some roadblocks. He may have to put up more than one, but God is going to get our attention one way or another. If we are going the wrong way, God will stand in the road to oppose us. He loves us. He doesn’t want us going down a road of destruction or a road that leads away from Him. He will do whatever is necessary to make us turn around. I can recount many memories of times when things didn’t go as planned. I’ve often shared the story of when I wasn’t accepted into the acute care nurse practitioner program after completing my bachelor’s in nursing. I was so upset. I had a 4.0 GPA, several years of experience in critical care, and a sparkling resume. There was no reason that I should not have been accepted. I was angry, I was hurt. I even cried like a baby. I eventually dried my tears, and I applied for the family nurse practitioner track, and I was accepted immediately. It wasn’t until a long while later that I realized that God changed my path. That was more than 20 years ago, and had I completed the acute care program, I would have had to move away from my family and friends. There were no acute care nurse practitioner jobs available in my area back then. And the “all knowing” me didn’t want to do family practice because critical care was all that I really knew up until that point. Little did I know that my God already knew just what and where I needed to be. I absolutely love being a family nurse practitioner. I feel like it is a calling from God. I interact with entire families on a daily basis, and I get to share Christ…on the job! I’m so thankful He put that roadblock in my path. His plans are always so much better than mine!

Lastly, let us consider Balaam’s actions. The donkey was trying to protect Balaam. He saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road blocking the way, but Balaam could not see the angel. The donkey tried three times to avoid running into the angel, and three times Balaam beat his good old donkey. God placed a roadblock right in front of him, and he couldn’t see it, and instead of trying to figure out why his donkey was acting out of sorts, he did as we do many times and became angry and struck the source of his irritation. God tries to get our attention, and when we don’t listen, He tries again and again, and before we know it, we are beating the donkey, the wrong donkey, who is an innocent victim. We begin to lash out at others, and we blame other people in our lives for our bad circumstances rather than looking inward to try to determine why things are as they are.

If God is calling you in a certain direction, run to Him. Don’t compromise on that calling. If you’ve got a burr in your saddle, maybe you should try to remove the burr by finding out the source of the irritation. Is God putting it there to protect you and put you back on the right track? Don’t strike others and blame them when things are going wrong because something in your own life needs to be corrected. Instead, sit down and have a talk with God. Open His Word. I bet He is just waiting to hear from you right now! God desires a relationship with each of us, and if we are straying from Him, He may not open the mouth of a donkey to get our attention, but I guarantee you that He will get our attention because He loves us that much!

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