“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?”
I love the story of Balaam and his donkey. If reading it outside of the Bible, you can almost imagine you are reading a children’s fable. The story has interesting characters, a talking animal and a strong moral at the end – all characteristic of an excellent fable. But, Balaam is not simply a character. He was a man, and his talking donkey was very real.
Found in the 22nd chapter of Numbers, Balaam and his donkey were on the road following orders from the king of the Moabites. Although he was originally told by God not to take the trip, he finally left with God’s blessing and instruction to do only as God said. Three separate times along the way, the donkey purposely did not follow Balaam’s directions. Each time, Balaam beat the donkey he had known most of his life. After the third altercation, the donkey turns and asks Balaam why he is constantly being beaten. At that moment, an angel of the Lord is revealed to Balaam. It turns out the donkey had seen the angel every time he disobeyed Balaam and he was stopping to avoid running into the angel. The donkey saved Balaam from the anger and vengeance of an angel.
As odd as the story may seem it has a profound meaning to each of us. We are all instructed to journey through life, only doing that which God asks of us. We are not supposed to deviate from His plan. But, we do. Time and time again we veer from the path, sometimes so far that God sends messengers our way. Perhaps we get a phone call from a friend at an opportune time. Or, maybe screaming child causes us to leave the house late and narrowly miss the huge accident on the freeway. Whatever they are, take the time to listen to your donkey. Sometimes those roadblocks are God’s only way of reaching out.