Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Listen to the ass

For some strange reason this morning, I felt compelled to read the story of Balaam and his donkey, actually, for the purposes of shock value and the fact that I can actually get away with it if I use Old English, I read again the story of Balaam and his ass. It's one of those stories that you probably know if you've been a christian for any length of time, especially if you were raised in church like me. Because of that, however, I think it is also one of those stories that few people actually read for themselves. I decided to no longer be one of those people, so I read it.

Here's the basic recap... Balaam is headed to Moab with the messengers from the Moabite king because he got scared of the Israelites. He thinks they're going to wipe him off the face of the planet because there are so many of them and wants Balaam to pronounce a curse on them so he can get rid of them. Balaam agrees to go with the guys after some crafty negotiating and wakes up the next morning to make the (presumably) long trek to the king. On the way an Angel of the Lord is standing in his way ready to kill him, but his donkey three times stops and occasionally causes him injury to keep him from going on. Balaam gets mad at his donkey each time because he can't see the impending doom that is feet in front of him. Finally, the donkey speaks:

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 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.

First of all, does anyone else find it strange that Balaam doesn't even flinch when his Donkey (made capital because it is now his proper name) starts yammering at him? Is this a part of normal course in ancient Israel? Do people regularly sit and have chats with their animals about the matters of the day? Man, are we missing out. Think of all the wonderful things your pets could say- why they chewed up the furniture, why they chase their tail, why they just don't like your significant other...the list is endless. But alas, we don't. So sad.

Ok, enough with the randomness. After the Donkey speaks, the Lord opens up Balaam's eyes and he sees the angel standing in the road with his sword raised and finally gets it. He apologizes profusely and vows to turn back if it will appease an angry God (funny what you'll do when faced with you own mortal peril). God tells him to go on but only say what He wants him to say.

Here's the thing that sticks out to me as I am sure it has stuck out to thousands upon thousands of people before me- the Donkey. Here was a part of Balaam's everyday life that God was desperately trying to communicate to Balaam through, but he was so set on pursuing his own path and his own course of action that he never realized that his own demise was drawing nigh (see, I told you I was going to stick with some Olde English). How often is that the case with me?

I have a plan. I have a direction in which I am headed and I am dead set on getting there come hell or highwater, but things derail me. So, instead of necessarily assessing where I am or why the thing has been derailed, I get back on the horse (or Donkey) and plod along (please note the continual equestrian references) hoping that maybe this time will be better. Things stay the same and I try again, never realizing that perhaps a change of course is necessary. "I mean, it seemed like a good idea and direction at the time, so how come it isn't working? Why can't I find the break that I'm looking for? I know God said to do (fill in the blank) so, now what?" These are some of the questions I have posed of late and often to a deafening wall of silence from the Jesus (pronounced hay-soos for those of you wondering). But what if the silence is an indication that I'm missing something? What if the fact that each of these things that are not working out the way I thought that they should is not a sign that more faith is required to persevere, but rather a sign that something new is needed? my father always said to us, "don't get to be forty and look back on your life and realize that you missed out or messed up because you weren't listening to what God told you to do."

I had a guy come up to me at City Worship a few weeks ago. Now nornmally I am hesitant to have random people come up and want to pray with me. I'm not caught up in the whole transferrence of spirits thing, it's more because I like my Jesus (pronounced Jesus) time to be my time without any external incursion. But, he came up to me and asked me if he could pray with me. I said yes. After praying and as he was walking away, he turned to me and said, "sometimes you have to just keep digging until you find water." I said the requisite "thank you" and possibly even an "amen" and then he left. Later, as I thought about what he said, I realized I had missed out on the core of the message in the simple words. When digging a well, a well digger (the acutal title for the job) may have to try several locations before he strikes water. All the time he's digging, he has to believe that this one (or when it's proven to be dry- the next one) will be the spot for the water he's been searching for. But through all of that, he cannot (for you Kelsey) stop digging. He can't get frustrated and throw up his hands because it didn't work out the first few times- he has to keep pushing on and trying new things when what he's trying doesn't yield any results. So too with us.

When what you're doing doesn't seem to be getting you anywhere, try something new. But remember to be cognizant of the everything around you because God is probably speaking to you through things and people that you weren't necessarily looking or listening for. May I always be aware, oh Lord, of your voice, in whatever form it comes.

Oh yeah, the other thing that has been sticking out to me of late is the concept that as Jesus gets big in your life, everything else seems to be insignificant. I heard it again for the first time from a mentor friend of mine, then again in church on Sunday, and then again from Laura's blog entitled Full in His Face. I could go into more detail about that concept, but she does a fabulous job so go read what she said. Actually, just go ahead and subscribe to all her blogs. Love ya Foot!


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