There have been many times in my life as a mother when I've felt as though I'm talking to a brick wall, praying to the ceiling, and having my painstakingly chosen words of wisdom and instruction fall on deaf ears.
Never once, though, have I ever talked to a donkey, especially a donkey that spoke back - at least, I'd like to think I haven't. But, I know that I have, and I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts so have you, sweet friend.
Let me explain.
Have you ever heard the account in the old testament about the prophet Balaam and his donkey? If you haven't, I encourage you to check it out. You can find the whole story in the book of Numbers. In fact, just start at the beginning of the book to get the backstory. However, the passage I'm talking about today comes from Numbers 22.
The Israelites had just defeated the Amorites, and the other rulers in the area were getting nervous. So the king of Moab sent a messenger to the prophet, Balaam, asking him to come and brings God's curses against the Israelites in order to save the people of Moab.
As you might imagine, God wasn't to keen on this plan and told Balaam not to go with them, because He had already blessed these people. The Moabite King was disinclined to acquiesce to Balaam's response, and sent an ever larger group of even more powerful people to convince him. This time, God allowed Balaam to go, but gave him strict instructions to speak only the words God gave him to say.
Balaam sets off on his donkey, but God is still unhappy with the whole situation. So, He sent an angel to stand in the road. Of course, Balaam couldn't see the angel, but the donkey could! So, of course, the donkey stops and refuses to go. Frustrated that this stubborn animal was keeping him from his agenda, Balaam smacks the poor thing with a stick. The donkey continues on, but the angel reappears, this time in a place with walls on either side where the path narrows. The creature moved up against the wall as far as she could go, squishing Balaam's foot in the process. Goaded to even further frustration, Balaam beats her again.
Finally, the donkey just lays down in the middle of the road, because, the large sword-wielding angel was intimidating, as you might imagine.
Angry and annoyed, Balaam continues to beat the animal when, finally, the donkey speaks up. And this is where it gets really interesting. Check out Numbers 22:28:
"And the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, 'What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?'"
That's right, the donkey actually spoke to Balaam. This isn't some mysterious biblical metaphor. Real words spouted forth from the mouth of an animal. Check out Balaam's reaction:
"Then Balaam said to the donkey, 'Because you have made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now.'"
Hold up. An animal just straight up spoke to him, and Balaam doesn't even blink. He just answers, as if this happened everyday.
He continues on this conversation for a few more minutes before God opens his eyes and he sees the warrior angel standing in the path. Then he gets it. He recognizes his sin and works to make it right.
But I can't get beyond the whole talking donkey thing. And I can't help but wonder - when have I ignored the miraculous (and slightly ridiculous) in my life out of frustration over the disruption of my own plans?
Am I so dead-set on crossing off my to-do list that I miss the amazing and wondrous things God is doing to get my attention? And am I so caught up in moving on to the next thing that I miss God's warrior angels trying to deter me from the path of destruction?
In Balaam's case, God allowed him to continue down that path, but with an extra dose of instruction and warning that he was to be extremely careful with his words - more careful than usual.
riends, I know we're all running 90 miles a minute trying to get homework, healthy meals, baseball practice and ballet lessons done on time. But let's not be so dead-set on crossing off the list that we engage the miraculous as if it was ordinary.
Lord, open our eyes and let us find the wonder in Your warnings, the freedom in Your grace, and the strength in Your protection.