I'm Thankful for All the Donkeys In My Life
I’m thankful for all the donkeys in my life. No this is not about the movie Shrek.
Do you know the story of Balak and Balaam? I read Numbers Chapters 22 and 23. Chapter 22 gave me chills and Chapter 23 left me in awe.
Before I get into the story, let me give you a quick rundown of what’s happening. The Israelites are freed from Egypt and have been wandering around the desert to get to the Promise Land. This 11 day journey turned into 40 years because of their rebellion against God. God made a vow that none of that generation will enter the Promise Land (except for two people and no, one of them wasn’t Moses) but that their children will. So, God patiently waits. The 40 years is almost up and the Israelites are once again on the move. God pronounced judgment on these neighboring lands due to their wickedness and so the Israelites are following instructions (at least some of it. It’s a long story, going on till this day), of winning battles, clearing out the inhabitants and taking over.
Balak, king of the Moabites, is shaking in his boots! The Israelites are MASSIVE! Rolling at least a mil deep at this point (some died due to rebelling against God). Imagine a caravan of people totaling approximately a million or two, camping near your territory. I would be scared too.
So Balak is scared and he sends messengers to summon Balaam to come and curse the Israelites. Balaam is a prophet and knows God, but stay tuned, eye him throughout the story. The messengers arrive along with the fee to pay Balaam. Balaam tells them, he can only do what God directs. He tells them to spend the night while he finds out what God has to say.
Pause for a second here. To me this applicatory for us. This is an example of (1) acting and not reacting and (2) most importantly, consulting God for everything.
In Codependent No More by Melody Beattie and The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham, two books on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, say that rarely a decision is needed to be made immediately. But don’t we have this mentality that we have to make a decision right now? That we must act, NOW! The problem must be solved NOW! Nothing can wait. Then a few nights ago I read a devotional that stated a reminder that it is NOT our job to solve our problems. We’re supposed to take it to the Lord. But then we have to wait for a response. And there’s our problem. We don’t like to wait. Many of us feels like anything longer than a heartbeat is just too long.
I’ve been working on this character trait.
Back to the story. Numbers 22:9-12 NIV:
9. God came to Balaam and asked, “Who are these men with you?”10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message: 11 ‘A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.’”12 But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.” [Emphasis added]
Welp! God spoke. Balaam, delivers the message to the messengers and he sent them on their way.
Balak is annoyed and this time he sends princes and tells them to tell Balaam that he will pay him “handsomely.” When they arrive, Balaam tells them:
Verse 18. But Balaam answered them, “Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God.” Okok so he’s a pretty decent guy, right? He’s saying all the right things. Then in verse 19, he continues by saying: “Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the Lord will tell me.” [Emphasis added]
Que? What did God say in verse 12? Scroll up, I wrote it. To be honest with you I missed the problem that just occurred in verse 19. The problem that we do over and over and over and over again, that we are so guilty of! I know I for sure am! If you missed it, don’t worry, I’ll explain.
Verse 20: That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”
Wait what? First God said not to go and now He’s saying to go? WOOT! WOOT! God answered my prayers CHA-CHING! Balaam is about to get paid “handsomely.” I’m sure that’s how Balaam felt and how we feel when we think God has answered our prayers.
Verse 21: “Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the Moabite officials. 22. But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.” [Emphasis added]
I backed up and re-read from verse 12 back to this 2x. What am I missing? Why is God angry? He told him he could go, what’s the deal?
Le sigh. This is exactly the problem! God told him in verse 12 not to go and to not curse them. But then Balaam hears about this handsome reward and so note what happened in verse 19. His mouth did a good play of remaining steadfast but his actions did not. When they arrived a second time, he should’ve sent them back on their way. There was no need to find out “what else” God had to say. He said what He said!
But this is where we mess up and get into trouble. Because God told us something we didn’t want to hear, we keep going back to Him, hoping He’ll change His mind. And any inkling of a yes, we spring into action. God will never force us to His will. He respects our free will. What some of us fail to realize is that we have to submit our will to Him. Not the other way around.
I was saddened by all this. A series of scenes from my past flashed before my eyes of the countless times, I asked God for something and I hear “no” but how could an all-knowing God, say no to this? Clearly, He misheard me. Let me ask another way. Let me ask again. Let me rephrase. Let me wait for a few days and ask again. None of this is new to God.
Sounds familiar? Have we not done this as a child to our parents? What the hell do our parents who have decades of experience and was once a child know more than us, to tell us not to hang with that crowd or to be home before dark, do our homework, get rest, eat more spinach and less candy and the list goes on and on. And if you had a mom like mine, her favorite line was: “No means NO!” And if we’re old enough to experience the trouble they foresee, they sigh and let us go to that party, or whatever and experience the consequences of the rebellion. BUT thank God, for the donkeys in our lives!
22.But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.
24. Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.
26. Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. 28. Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” 29. Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.” 30. The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?” “No,” he said. [Emphasis added]
Some Bible scholars believed that “the angel of the Lord” is God in human form and others believe it to be Jesus. And yes, you just read that a donkey spoke to a man. Do I believe this? You betcha! But don’t miss the point. The donkey saw the angel with a sword drawn and thrice he tried to save his master by trying to avoid this being with a drawn sword.
Your parent tells you no over and over and you’re old enough to experience the consequences so they say yes. Or something is happening in your life that someone is warning you not to do it, but you don’t want to listen. But then your really good cousin, your best friend, a spouse, a good coworker, this loyal person intervenes once, twice- trying to reason with you. Thrice, and you fight them! Finally, this good friend says: “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
Am I not your good friend? Haven’t we been riding together for a long time? Am I one to stop you from making your own decisions? You reply, “No.” That’s the time to listen folks. When that good person intervenes and says, no don’t sign that contract, don’t hang with that person, they will be detrimental to your marriage, don’t work with that person, I don’t trust so and so- take a moment to reflect: God told me no, someone else told me no and here is my loyal friend intervening right before the act can be committed, telling me no. Maybe, they’re trying to tell me/you something?
I can go on to talk about how powerful it is that the “angel of the Lord” intervened as well. I will, but only briefly. I’ll be focusing more on the donkey.
The story continues…
31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.
32 The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”
34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.” 35 The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials. [emphasis added]
This good loyal person intervenes and says, “I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.” Don’t do it! Don’t get involved with that person! Don’t go! It’s clear that the road you’re heading is a reckless one!
You do it anyway. Turns out, yeah, it wasn’t the right thing to do. You’re hurt and your friend “spared.” Sounds familiar?
God loves us so much, that when we try to get around Him, He lets us be, but He sends someone to intervene on His behalf. So be thankful for the donkeys God has placed in your lives. I know I am. Send them a message and thank them.
Ummmm actually, if you’re going to call them a donkey, follow up the message with this blog post. I don’t want a quarrel to happen.
If you have a Bible, read Numbers 22 and read the next chapter to see how Balaam’s actions seem to be one of trying to bribe God and how Balak takes Balaam on different peaks of the mountains to show Balaam how numerous the Israelites are and thus he MUST curse them. But instead, all Balaam receives are messages from God aimed directly at Balak to not lay a finger on them. But Balaam isn’t finish scheming yet.
I started reading the Bible for myself in December. I highly recommend it! I completed the New Testament and as you can see, as of this writing, I am now up to Numbers. The Bible is the best book I’ve ever read. It’s filled with lots of drama and lots of lessons.
I can certainly understand any religious fear to reading it. Go in with the mindset to learn. You will be surprised by SO MANY misquoted and misinterpreted verses. You’ll also be surprised by the scandalous events that happens! I was raised in the church and always thought the Bible boring. HA! I was wrong. Oh, so wrong!
To all the donkeys in my life. You know who you all are, thank you! I thank God for you!
After reading this, tell me who your donkey is. Tag them on my FB, and if you feel moved to, share a little about them.