Stop beating the donkey!

Daily Readings: Numbers 22-24

Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.

Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.

Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

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.

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”

Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.

Numbers 22:21-35

How often are we Balaam?

There have been so many times in my life where I can look back and realize, in hindsight, that I was sitting atop my donkey beating the poor thing repeatedly while an angel stood in the road opposed to what I was currently doing.

These times in life don’t have to be major sin issues. The angel standing in our path trying to stop us doesn’t necessarily have to be there for the purpose of helping us avoid pitfalls for our own personal lives. (Although, that is certainly frequently the case!) Occasionally God has a specific mission for us on a given day, week, year, or season in our lives and we are too focused on our own priorities to notice the angel standing in our path attempting to redirect our steps.

Perhaps it is a person at work who is really struggling, but we haven’t taken the time to notice because we are worrying too much about our own current situation. Maybe it is a ministry opportunity that our church family is in desperate need of filling that we would be perfect for, but we are more concerned with how we want to use our time instead of what God wants to use our time for. From time to time it may just be a stranger that could really use a smiling face, a kind word, and a prayer from someone they just met, but took the time to see the humanity in them, and paused their busy life to have an impact.

There are times when I am completely in tune with God and these opportunities for kingdom level impact seem to be all around me. However, frequently, I just beat the donkey.

It is amazing how stubborn we can be when pursuing our own will for our lives instead of having our eyes open to see God’s will. It usually ends with us feeling like Balaam; foot crushed, plan stalled out, frustrated at our current situation, and unsure why our plan seems to be failing so miserably at the time!

We beat the donkey…over and over and over again.

And we wonder why life is hard at the moment.

As marketplace missionaries, one of the most powerful prayers we can pray every single day is, “God, open my eyes. Help me see the angels in my path directing my steps. Show me your will today. Use me for impact.”

When this is the posture of our hearts it is amazing how God always shows up. It is still amazing to me that the God of the Universe would choose to use us in all of our brokenness to reach and bless others.

Today, slow down and stop beating the donkey. God might just have someone in your path you are meant to impact.

Thought to ponder

When have I recently been too worried about my own plans, responsibilities, or stressors in my life to be attentive to those around me and open to God’s will for my day, week, month, or year?

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