This Sunday at FBC Fort Thomas, we looked at the story of Balaam and the Talking Donkey. Out of all of the stories in scripture, this would have to rank pretty high on my list of stories that I would have loved to see play out as it happened. If you are unfamiliar with the story I encourage you to go to Numbers 22 and read about what happens but for the sake of this post I’ll give you the JSV (Jeremy Shannon Version) summary:
Balaam, a diviner (i.e. prophet) in the Old Testament was asked by Balak, the leader of the Moabites to ask the Lord to curse the Israelites (the CHOSEN people…come on Balaam) because they were afraid they would be attacked. Even though he knew it wasn’t a good idea, Balaam asked the Lord over and over and over until finally the Lord sent him on the way to talk to Balak. The next morning Balaam takes off and would probably have made it to Moab in record time except his trusty donkey kept taking him off course. One time he runs off the road, so Balaam beats him. Another time he runs into a wall and crushes Balaam’s foot, so Balaam beats him. One last time, there is nowhere else for the donkey to go, so it sits on the ground, and…you guessed it, Balaam beats it.
Growing frustrated, the donkey says “Why in the world are you beating me?!?! Have I ever done this to you?”
At this point, we see that Balaam’s eyes are opened to what we had already read in the passage: the donkey saw an angel of the Lord standing in the road and he wanted to protect Balaam.
So, we see that Balaam, a guy that was known for being able to share messages from the Lord, was so blinded by his own selfish ambition that he was unable to see what a DONKEY was able to see.
There are many things that happen in this passage that I could point out, but one thing has continued to play in my mind.
We live in an increasingly angry time. Everyone is divided. Everyone thinks that they know best. As I read the news and see things playing out around the world, I think the majority of our issues stem from the fact that people (myself included) would rather see their agenda win than the kingdom of God advanced.
We pray prayers that assume we know what is best and that if only God would do things our way, we would get what we want.
What would have happened if Balaam had taken a moment to think about the situation? His donkey had never been disobedient and he also knew that he was probably not doing as the Lord wished. Blinded by anger and ambition, he sees a disobedient donkey as someone that is only keeping him from what he really wants. He can’t fathom that there is a reason for what is happening and so he beats it, over and over.
I don’t know how to fix the problems of the world. I don’t know if a post like this only adds to the chaos, but I do feel compelled to share this:
Just because someone makes you angry doesn’t mean that they are wrong. In fact, the people who make you the most angry might actually be a way that the Spirit is trying to teach you something. You must constantly check, recheck, and evaluate to make sure that your actions show an allegiance only to the kingdom of God.
If you can’t disagree with your political party on any issue, that probably means that your strongest allegiance is not with Jesus. If you can’t sit down and have a conversation with someone that drives you absolutely crazy, that means that yourstrongest allegiance is not with Jesus.
I am not saying that everything is a compromise. I am not saying that there are not places to take a stand. What I am saying is that you have to be very careful because there is a very strong chance that there is something that you believe strongly about but the fact is that you are wrong.
I am wrong. Often. I know where I fall, but I also know that there are places where I am blinded by my own ambition. Because of that, I have to be open to listening, to asking questions, and making sure that I live with an awareness that God might speak through those who make me the angriest.
I firmly believe that there are many injustices in the world if people would put down their labels, their agendas, and work together to help those who are hurting. Instead in the face of tragedy we see both sides, (BOTH sides), spin things with the most extreme examples, one-upsmaniship, and the people hurt the most are those who aren’t even welcome at the table for those discussions.
Who makes you the angriest? How might God be using that person to teach you something?
What have you chased this week that doesn’t really match up with what God would want? Are you courageous enough to let it go and focus on the things that really matter?
Until Christ returns, there will be divisiveness, anger, jealousy, and every other sin under the sun. But you have a choice. You don’t have to give in. You can set a different standard.
One of my favorite Rich Mullins lines is this, “The stuff of earth competes for the allegiance, I owe only to the giver of all good things.”
Based on your actions, where is your true allegiance?