And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Then 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?” And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!” So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?” And he said, “No.” Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.
Her parents had spoken their wishes, but she was determined to defy them. She thought she was old enough and wise enough to know what was best for her. They set what they believed were reasonable and safe boundaries, but she pushed against them regularly. This party was to be huge, and she could not miss it. From the beginning of her planning, however, it seemed like something or someone was working against her scheme. Her parents’ weekend trip fell through, and they would be home. The friend who was to be her cover would not lie for her. The boy who was to be her clandestine ride had car trouble only hours before he was to pick her up. No matter how she tried, no matter who she enlisted, she just could not get to that party.
We often desire things that will serve us no good purpose, and we just as often are aware of that. We try to convince ourselves that God is on board with our plans because we think we can convince him of our reasoning. Sometimes God lets us have our way even if it will end in disaster. Sometimes He treats us like Balaam and makes it impossible for us to keep advancing toward that danger. We might not like it, and we might be baffled by it, but we must consider that this is one way our God operates. His hand of protection is not always about keeping the wolves and lions back from us. He also has to keep us from approaching them of our own will. If He must shackle us to keep us from danger or from sin, we should welcome those shackles.
My parents practiced some classic, no-nonsense discipline in our house. If I could not learn to share a toy, I simply did not get to play with it. If I broke the rules with one of their cars, I would not be allowed to drive it. If I could not obey my curfew and get home on time, I would have to lose my freedom for a period. I thought they were being mean, but they were being practical and protective. When your plans simply will not work, and nothing you do advances you to your goal, ask the Lord whether this hindrance is really his good guidance. Father, if the road we choose is a faulted one, please make the way impossible and awaken us to your wise direction.