A pastor friend wrote about Balaam's donkey this week, just hours after I'd been up late into the night thinking about this very beast of burden. When I saw his post come through, I was like - wow! No way! I was just thinking about this! But our thoughts on the subject could not have been any different. Not that we disagree; we are simply answering different questions.
I encourage you to check out Patrick's take on Balaam's donkey here. (Patrick is the author of Tentpegs, a blog dedicated to answering theological and church-related questions. I read it daily, even when there's no new content.)
What I was thinking about Balaam's donkey is as follows:
The story is in Numbers 22. A prophet of the Lord, Balaam, has been asked to come to the leader of a less-than-righteous nation and bless them in battle, a ruse to get the powerful God on their side. God told the prophet not to go, but relented after the wicked nation insisted and then told Balaam to go but only to say what the Lord instructed him. Along the way, his donkey stops several times because it sees the angel of the Lord blocking the way. Each time, Balaam strikes the animal harshly and prods it along. Until finally, of course, Balaam sees the same angel and understands, as the angel tells him, what the donkey has seen all along.
And what I was lying awake thinking was this:
Sometimes, even the ass has some good sense about him.
We all know these people - they're just jerks. They are beasts of burden; it is a heavy weight just to be around them for long. This is no reflection on present or recent company in my life; I'm finding the grace that I don't view people so harshly any more. But from time to time, even I have had my encounters with the ass.
It's easy to be put off by these people. It's easy to lose our cool. It's easy to be just as harsh and burdensome with these animals as they are with us. It's easy to write off everything a person says or does or believes or thinks or whatever just because of their personality. I'm speaking of the ass because, well...donkey. But I'm talking really about anyone with whom your two personalities just don't click. It doesn't make one person bad and one good; it just means we have vast differences with each other and will always have to make graces for one another's way of being if we're going to have any sort of relationship. It's ok, by the way, to have people in your life like this. Not everyone has to be exactly like you. It's ok to clash. And it's ok to still be friends even after you clash.
But what I was thinking about was some of these clashes in my own life. I have these people. They are not necessarily asses, but in a former heart, it would have been easy for me to think such things. We're just different, and I learn something new every time I have the blessing of interacting with these people. ...Because I refuse to just write them off. I refuse to dismiss them based on personality. I refuse to turn away because of our differences. They still have some valid arguments, some good points, some valuable insights, and I wouldn't want to miss it.
Though I admit in the past, I probably would have beaten them with my big stick.
Balaam and his donkey could not have been more different. One was a prophet of the Lord, an honored man, a man of wisdom, sought-after and so forth. One was an ass. But read through the story and see which one, in that journey, had a true vision of God. It wasn't the prophet. And as much as his donkey tried to warn him, he wouldn't listen. He thought he had the high road. They ended up standing in the middle of the road.
I don't know where you think you are today. Are you the prophet of the Lord who thinks you have the high road? Do you have the answers? Do you have it figured out? Are you shunning any voice that tries to tell you otherwise? Because it doesn't matter how different you are from the man standing next to you, if one of you sees the Lord and the other one doesn't...who's the prophet? And who's the ass?
The thoughts in today's post are really the kinds of things I think about at night. This is a rambling, random thought that I share as an insight and as an encouragement, just so you know that not all thoughts are golden. But some are very, very amusing. I apologize if coarse language offends you. I make no excuses. I just live in this world and some days, its language invades me. I am what I am. I hope you are amused.