Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Messengers, Angels and talking donkeys, oh my....

Year of the Bible reading has us in Numbers.  Tucked in the midst of all those laws are some AMAZING stories.  When I say amazing, I mean ahhh-mazing!!!  Numbers 22 is one of those places where you're reading along, waiting to see where the story goes and then WHAM!  It's like the Lord wrote it to say 'Are you listening...REALLY listening?' 

The Israelites have gained "a name" in the land as being chosen by God and had 'grown to cover the face of the land'.  Balak, king of Moab, summons Balaam - a prophet - to get a curse put on these people (his enemy).  Balaam tells him that he can't go against what the Lord has promised but that news doesn't sit well with this king so he sends even more princes out to "persuade" Balaam to come and pronounce this curse on the people.  Balaam seems like he's really got it together - not going against what the Lord has commanded or promised - but then, as he always does - the Lord shows us that even in His chosen messengers there is still humanity, there are still problems and still issues. 

The Lord told Balaam that HE would tell him when to go with the men and when he woke the very next day he got up and went with them.  How often do I do that?  How often do I feel the Lord call me to something and then when He asks me to wait for His lead, I just jump right in, take things by the reigns and find myself in a ditch, against a wall or flat on my face?  See, that's just where Balaam ended up,  riding his donkey and taking her by the reigns forging forward without the Word from the Lord.  His donkey has more discernment than he did.  She saw the angel of the Lord and tried to stop him.  She ran into the ditch (he beat her back onto the road), she ran him into a wall (again he forced HIS will on her), then she just flopped down on her belly in fear of the Lord. 

Balaam gets so mad that when his donkey opens her mouth to say "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?" he simply replies (paraphrase) 'Because you've embarrassed me in front of all these princes."  Again, how often have I been there?  So caught up in myself that I miss a miracle...a TALKING DONKEY for crying out loud!!!  No, the Lord hasn't made my dog talk to me...yet (I don't have a donkey)....but how many times have I overlooked miracles, blessings because I'm so caught up in getting my own way, worried about how other's will see me, or just downright mad? 

It's so easy to sit back and judge the people in the Bible because we can read to the end of their story - we can see how the Lord either reveals Himself (like He did to Balaam by opening his eyes to what his donkey saw) or we can see how the Lord judges them and punishes them.  We don't know the end of our story, however, we don't see the big picture of what God has planned for us so instead we - or should I say I - need to take these stories, these people and find ourselves (myself) in them.  Read about each person and their situation in the Word of God and then take a long look at ourselves in the mirror before we cast judgement on them or before we think we have nothing to learn from them.

I challenged my Sunday school girls to memorize Romans 15:4 this year.   "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."  When we look at the Word of God we need to be ready to be taught, find endurance to face our hardships, be encouraged when we're fighting the enemy and then ultimately to find hope when we feel hopeless and to tell others about the hope we have!  My prayer is that it doesn't take a talking donkey for the Lord to get my attention when I'm heading down a path that isn't the path HE has chosen for me!!