Pinning the ‘Tale’ on the Donkey
By Ed Delph
February 20, 2023
There is an occurrence in the ancient Scriptures that has a life lesson for all of us if we are open. Let me introduce this life coach and her claim to fame story. Warning: This life coach is not pretty, is silent most of the time, and comes across as stubborn and dumb, but when she speaks, angels listen.
Her story is in Numbers, Chapter 22 in the Bible. There was an Old Testament prophet by the name of Balaam. He was on a misguided, money-driven mission to curse someone God did not want to be cursed. As he was riding along, his donkey suddenly stopped on the road. No matter how hard Balaam tried to get the donkey to move, the donkey would not budge. Then the donkey pinned Balaam's foot against a fence, sending Balaam into a frenzy. Balaam started beating the donkey in a fit of anger.
Then the donkey cried out, “Why are you beating me? Haven’t I served you faithfully all these years?” Next, an angel sent by God appeared to Balaam, "You fool, quit beating her. Even she could see I was standing here. Your donkey just saved your life. If you had tried to carry out your misguided mission, I would have killed you and let the donkey live."
The Bible occurrence I conveyed to you above may sound wild to you. A donkey who becomes a life coach, a big angel sent by God, and a prophet who is more pathetic than prophetic. But never be surprised by what God can do. This time God chose to speak through a donkey. God, being merciful, was merciful to the unmerciful prophet who didn’t deserve any mercy. God broke almost every rule in the creation to warn His prophet. Balaam tried to pin the ‘tale’ on the donkey, but the angel pinned the 'tale' onto Balaam.
There is a lesson here. When the donkey you are riding on, who has only your best interest in mind, suddenly refuses to move, don't kick it. Instead, slow down, and don't let anger or other fallen emotions guide you. Instead, look for the angel standing on the road. There's a reason the loyal, devoted donkey is not acting the way it usually does. That donkey could be trying to save your life. My mother used to say to my father, who hated taking medicine, "A nagging wife may save your life." Of course, she didn't usually want to nag, but when she did, it was for a good reason – to keep my dad alive.
There is a scripture in the New Testament that says, "With gentleness correct those who oppose themselves…" That's what that brown, shaggy, consistent, reliable, sure-footed, big-eared (donkeys have big ears for hearing what we don't hear) life coach did. The donkey was ‘bray-ve.’ She had more ‘donkey’ sense than the prophet of God, trying to stop Balaam from avoiding the consequences of opposing himself.
Let's explore the concept of "with gentleness correct those who oppose themselves…" Think of a boxer in the ring in a fight. Suddenly, not only is his adversary boxing him, but the boxer is also boxing himself. We have all done that, haven't we? Many times, in this life, we are our own worst enemies. Those life coaches who love us enough to try to warn us are all but ignored. Why? Because we want to do everything our way.
I've learned a thing or two about this in my ministry. As a pastor, I usually see others' issues and consequences. I was known as 'Pastor Love.' I loved people, and they knew it. But sometimes, I could see an angel in the way of where they wanted to go. When 'Pastor Love' warns you, you should probably listen. Why? Because it’s generally not in my nature to say no. Haven't I been a faithful pastor all these years? Whoops, I leaked!
There's a bit of Balaam in us, wanting our way come hell or high water. We think circumstances are slowing us up, friends are not supporting us, our spouse is stopping us, the banker should have said yes to that loan, God is against us, or the pastor doesn’t understand us. But, many times, it’s a God-appointed donkey just trying to save our life when we have been trying to do our life alone.
Here’s some wisdom: Be teachable, not offended. Don’t curse the life coach sent to you by the Life Coach trying to put you in a position to succeed. Just think, you might be meeting God in a braying donkey or a friend or coach sounding like one.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking I’ve been watching reruns of Hee-Haw too much!
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com