Saturday, February 27, 2010

Well I'll Be...

You know, sometimes I run across stories in the scripture that just make me stop and go, "Hmm, well I'll be." I ran across one of them this morning. It wasn't a new story to me, I'd heard it a dozen times or more, but I read it this morning again for the first time, if that makes any sense.

The devotional track that I've been following has been spending some time in the Book of Numbers recently, and this morning, it was Numbers 21, 22, and 23. This particular story is about the Israelite's journey through the desert and about the time they camped along the border of Moab. Balak was king of Moab and he was worried, in fact, the whole country was worried. There were a lot of people camped at their back door, and only so many resources to go around.

Now Balak did what any good leader would do, he summoned a prophet to put a curse on this group of people. Nothing like a little black magic first thing in the morning, I guess. Balaam, the prophet that had been summoned, refused to go, but then God spoke and said that it was ok, but that Balaam was only to do what God said.

Here is where the story gets interesting. Balaam is riding his donkey to meet Balak and the donkey sees something and spooks. She leaves the road and Balaam beats her to get her back on course. She does this again, and again, Balaam beats her. A third time, she sees something and spooks, this time just laying down. Balaam beat her again, and she turned around and started talking! That's right, I said, the donkey talked. "Hmmm, well I'll be."

I don't know if this story is history or legend, and that is really not important. What is important is the truth within the story, and that being this; when we are headed on a path that might appear to be destructive or dangerous, God COULD employ some pretty extreme measures to get our attention. Balaam didn't listen, in fact, he argued with the donkey, but God opened his eyes and he was able to see what had spooked the donkey in the first place.

As readers of this story, we might be waiting for Alan Funt to jump out and say "Surprise, you're on candid camera!" as if this were some divine practical joke. But he doesn't, and it's not. It's another example of God offering direction for our paths if we pay attention. So, I think I'm going to take a few minutes this week and look at the things that are lying in my path, pay attention to those inner nudgings that we all feel, and see where the road takes me. I must admit, it would be cool to talk to a donkey, but I think I'll pass. As stubborn as I am, and as stubborn as they are, no good would come of it at all.

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