S38P6 – God’s miraculous power for today: The Talking Donkey

Numbers 22:26-28

The Angel of the Lord went further, 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, she lay down under Balaam, so Balaam was angry and he struck the donkey a third time with his staff. And the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have struck me these three times?”

Sometimes God speaks to us in words, and other times he speaks to us in circumstances. Back when I was still a young man of the world, I remember dreaming of moving to a big city. On the east coast, I had Philadelphia and New York on my mind. I cannot tell you how many job applications I submitted, as well as interviews I attended, in an effort to leave this small place in which I still live. At the time, I did not realize why none of my efforts panned out. I had my ideas of what a successful life looked like, and I had a plan of how I was going to live for myself according to my rules. Frustration would mount over the years at my being unable to fulfill this dream. Ultimately, I do not believe that it was my lack of credentials and connections that kept me from landing in the big city. I believe that was God directing me without my knowing.

Children have a way of asking for things. When the answer is something other than what they want to hear, they may ask again. Of course, the parents’ preference is for the child to simply accept the first answer. In today’s scripture, God had answered Balaam concerning his request. When we consider what his request was, asking whether he should curse God’s people Israel, we would expect God’s answer to be a resounding “no.” In fact, we would not expect God to want us to curse anyone. When faced with the offer of greater reward or accolades, Balaam decided to ask God again. I believe this is the source of God’s anger in this passage. As his way of getting through to Balaam and directing him, He created a circumstance in which the angel of the Lord would physically block Balaam’s way. And when this wasn’t enough of an indication to Balaam that he should stop, a talking donkey was God’s miraculous way of getting his attention.

Do not be surprised if God does something that seems to oppose our ideas of free will. Sometimes, God has to keep us from moving in order to get the point across. Sometimes, God has to speak to us in the most unexpected and seemingly impossible way for us to get the message. When we are trying to move in a certain direction, and it seems like everything is fighting against us, we should ask God weather this is in fact divine direction from him. If we ask God to open the door, and He does not open it, we should think twice before trying to open it ourselves. We cannot assume that God is simply not working in the situation or not answering us. Let us ask him to open our eyes the way He opened the eyes of Balaam to show him why the way was blocked. Father, thank You for your direction, and keep us sensitive to the divine ways in which You speak to us.