In the book of Numbers is a quirky story of Balaam and his donkey. The story is of Balaam the prophet being courted by Balak the king of Moab to prophesy against the children of Israel while on their way to the promised land. Balaam is evidently on his way to a perch where he can look down on the children of Israel when his donkey sees an angel from God that Balaam does not see. The donkey seeks to go around the angel and crushes Balaam’s leg against part of a wall. This leads to the Balaam getting more and more annoyed to the point that he beats his donkey three times.
At this point the donkey talks to Balaam. Balaam is evidently so upset at his donkey’s apparent disobedience that he does not see the unusual nature of the donkey speaking back to him.
We all can recount times where people have set their sights so earnestly in a single direction that the perception of the actual terrain around has become skewed. Too often the circumstance can be traced back to thoughts like “God, here is my plan, now bless it” rather than “God, what is Your plan?”
Motivations can be varied but personal esteem or reward is usually near the top. Perhaps we want to look good before others, our church to look good, our opponents to be outdone, our appeal to the community to be greater, our logic to be affirmed, or our future to be more secure. These still come down to selfish interests. The King Balak would likely have given reward to Balaam, and though Balaam seemed verbally to distance himself from that compensation, likely it was a motivator.
So on Balaam’s journey after his experience on the donkey he finally has the angel speak to him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me” (Numbers 22:32 NIV).
How many times have I followed a ‘reckless path’, one of my own devising? It could be a path where I was not technically disobeying but pushing the boundary.
May God give us all more ability to see our blindness caused by our self directed paths.