We’ve all heard the phrase “As stubborn as a mule.”
Perhaps we’ve even been categorized as such by some family members, co-workers or friends.
Everybody has such moments, of course.
Even the most godly of Christians put on the mantle under certain, Spirit-compelled circumstances when somebody has to resist pressure to compromise on the will and Word of God.
Too many times, though, we point the finger of stubbornness at others when, in fact, we are the stubborn ones.
This is particularly troubling when it involves the leading of God that we’re repeatedly rejecting as insignificant and not worth our time.
Being as stubborn as a mule against the things of God is never good.
Consider the story of Balaam and his donkey, described in today’s reading of the One-Year Bible.
Balaam was a wandering preacher who had been sought out by a pagan, Moabite king who wanted to keep the millions of Hebrews from passing through his land enroute to Palestine. There’s much more to the story, of course, but I’ll keep it at that for now.
Balaam was riding his female donkey toward a meeting with the king when The Angel of the Lord — the pre-incarnate Christ — stood in the road with a drawn sword in His hand.
Ironically, Balaam and his two servants didn’t see The Angel.
But the donkey did and she ran off into an adjacent field.
Balaam beats her with his walking staff until she returns to the path.
Wow. A donkey sees God and the preacher doesn’t.
In fact, the donkey is punished for seeing God by the one who does not.
Interesting thought, huh?
The story continues with The Angel of the Lord appearing a bit down the road between walls separating two vineyards. The donkey tried to get around the Angel and smashed Balaam’s foot against the stone wall.
“So he beat her again,” said Numbers 22:25.
A third time, The Angel of the Lord moved up the road and stood where the road became a narrow path with no room to turn or move from side to side. The donkey saw God and decided she had seen enough. She simply laid down on the spot.
Balaam’s response was predictable and immediate.
He started beating her.
Nice guy, huh?
Balaam — the preacher man who was supposed to reveal God’s will to the pagan king — was so worked up with anger that he was acting like the devil.
That’s when the real, stubbornness was revealed.
“What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” the donkey said.
Foaming with anger, Balaam didn’t even think about the fact that a donkey had just spoken to him and he replied, “You have made a fool out of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”
The Angel of the Lord soon revealed that He was behind this supernatural employment of a donkey’s vocal chords.
Balaam felt like an … uh… let’s say a donkey.
And he should have.
His stubbornness was foolish and contradictory to his mission and values.
Crazy story, yes.
But it’s a story that we’ve all imitated in one form or another.
Here’s the point. Sometimes God will try to get our attention or block us from improper paths and yet we’re stubbornly blinded for one selfish reason or another.
When God employs somebody else or even a particular set of circumstances in order to turn us away from that improper path, we instead see the person or the circumstances as enemies deserving punishment.
Perhaps there is somebody in your life now who isn’t going along with your cherished, self-concocted plan for making money or for gaining popularity or for getting more physical pleasure or even for an ego-puffing ministry initiative. Perhaps you are subtly punishing him or perhaps overtly punishing her simply because he or she won’t follow your agenda.
Look very closely at how his or her position in the situation compares to God’s and then compare your agenda to God’s will.
You just might find that you’re accusation of stubbornness was pointed at the wrong person.
If such turns out to be the case, do what Balaam did.
God will listen and put you back on the right road.
That’s what happened with Balaam.
And, boy, was the donkey glad He did.
As always, I love you