There is an Old Testament story about a sorcerer named Balaam (Numbers 22). The Moabite King, Balak, sent for Balaam to place a curse on Israel because he was afraid they might attack his people. But, despite Balak's offer of money, Balaam sent his messengers away because God had instructed Balaam not to curse the Israelites.
Balak tried again, only this time he sent higher ranking officials and Balak also offered to do whatever Balaam asked of him. Balaam again refused, stating, "Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God."
But guess what. Balaam saddled up his donkey and went with them. That's when God got a little angry. And from what I read in the Bible, that's not a good thing.
God sent an angel to block Balaam's way. The angel stood in the roadway with his sword drawn, waiting to strike down Balaam. It wasn't looking good for the guy on the donkey. He didn't see the angel standing there, blocking his way. But SOMETHING did. The donkey!
[Okay. It is now time for us to put on our thinking caps. God is trying to tell us something here.]
The donkey turned sharply off the road to avoid the sword-wielding angel but Balaam beat on the donkey, trying to make him return to the road.
The donkey tried to sneak through a vineyard but the angel block his path there too. And every time this donkey changed direction to avoid going down the wrong path, Balaam beat the donkey, determined to go the direction HE wanted to go.
Finally, the donkey had had enough and lay down the next time the angel blocked their path. Once again Balaam beat the donkey. Surely, this had to have been getting a little tiresome for our friend El Burro, getting beaten all the time when all the donkey was trying to was to go where God directed. But God made something happened this time. The donkey spoke!
"What have I done to make you beat me three times?" the donkey said.
For some reason Balaam wasn't very surprised when the donkey spoke (It would have freaked ME out, that's for sure). Now Balaam and the donkey are having a conversation! And Balaam is STILL not getting it!! God finally "opens Balaam's eyes" and he FINALLY sees the angel standing there. Balaam finally realises what he has done.
As I read that story I reflect on my own life. I was Balaam. Just going through life, venturing down the wrong roads, paths that were against God's will. Only I was not riding on a donkey. There was no one in my life to support me or to turn me off the destructive path I was walking on.
For me anyway, I think God got tired of watching me walk down those roads and sent someone into my life to push me onto the correct one. Now, as a believer and a youth leader, I find myself in the role of the donkey, trying to help others recognize the destructive roads they are on. And just like the donkey, I find myself getting rejected (beaten on), but I must remind myself of my role in this story. I'm not God, I'm the dumb a_ _!
I need to check who my lord is. Is it the fear I have of being hurt or rejected (beaten)? Or is my Lord, the Lord of All - Jesus Christ (doing His will)? The answer seems obvious yet I want so much to change peoples lives myself - so much so that I find myself skipping over the most important verse in this story - verse 31
"Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face." - Numbers 22:31
It's not about me, you donkey!! It's about God!
We who believe are here on this earth to be tools, instruments for God's use, vessels to carry His love to those we encounter on their road to destruction. God made the donkey speak and he opened the eyes of the sinner. What we need to do as donkeys is to find someone on the road and speak to them about the path they are on and direct them to the road that leads to Jesus. Because if we don't. If we are unwilling to be used, we might as well just get off the road, lie down in the ditch, and let the people we care about walk right by us into the sword of the angel.
I'd like you to listen to a song. It's by Casting Crowns. There is a line in the bridge that goes, "There's a way that seems so right to him, but you know where that leads." Let us never refuse to be used by God. May we always be ready and willing to serve, to carry someone else on our backs, under the direction of our King, until God opens their eyes and they can see that they are standing in the presence of the Lord.
Listen to this . . . as if it were sung by the donkey.
Casting Crowns - Prayer for a Friend