There once was a very clever she-donkey whose actions spoke louder than her words. Her name was Clara, due to the clarity of revelation she imparted to her abusers through her body language. Truly did she lay her body down as a living sacrifice for Christ, and suffered for it. (See Romans 12:1)
This is a new twist on an old Bible story from Numbers chapter 22. Can you see yourself in it?
Actions Speak Louder
"Blasted saddle!" yelled the notorious Blamer Hothead. "Where'd it go?! The one thing I'm looking for and I can't find it! I'll bet my wretched donkey hid it from me. And of all days when I'm in such a hurry! Oh why did those princes leave without telling me? Is that any way to treat a prophet? I've never seen such rude behavior in all my life!" He peppered his words with a few prime expletives not worth including in this text.
It wasn't unusual for Clara the faithful donkey to hear Blamer yell at her. She'd been suffering his verbal abuse for years. How she'd ever gotten yoked into this strange "marriage of convenience" was still a bit of a mystery to her.
After all, Blamer had seemed pious enough when he first looped her to that diamond ring hanging from his (unstable) stable wall. But it wasn't long before his true nature surfaced and she saw him for the selfish, cruel man that he was - using religion as an excuse to beat her into submission any time she didn't send him the right "signals" or agree one hundred percent with the television violence that often filled his "down" time.
It soon became apparent that all she had done was to trade an old noose for an new one. You see, for many years Clara had been in bondage to various curses, pinned like donkey tails to her forehead by past abusers. Curses such as "loser," "dumb brunette," "old lady," and "Always the tail, never the head." Though she knew that Jesus had died to take away those curses, it was hard for her to see herself as a new creature, un-condemned in Christ, and free.
Especially with a master like Blamer, the pious man who prayed long prayers but did a poor job listening to his own Master. The main problem with his hearing was that he heard what he wanted to hear and ignored the rest - Such as the commandment to "love thy neighbor" (in this case, Clara) as himself. And boy was he in a fit this morning!
Blamer threw down his lunch satchel and kicked the stable wall. "Ow! Ow, ow, ow, you dumb animal! Where'd you hide the saddle? I need your help and I need it now! I've got the unction bad, and no wild horses can keep me from my destiny!"
And oh how true, for there was no stopping Blamer when his mind was made up, regardless of how his actions lined up with God's Word. Who cared that God had told him, "You may join those kings of bling IF they call you in the morning"?
Blamer's heart was so set on "success" that he never heard the "if." All he heard was "You may join." His mind also managed to twist the word "bling" into "fling," thus leading his imagination along the most perilous of paths.
Then when he got no feedback (or callback as the case may be), the house he'd built on sinking sand fell completely apart.
"I don't understand," he muttered to himself. "How could they mistake my spoken 'NO' for a joking 'I can't go'? Didn't they read all the cards I left under their pillows saying, "Don't you dare leave without me!'?!! Obviously not. Or maybe my stubborn donkey somehow got to them. I wouldn't put it past her. She's such a prude. She snorts at my occasional twice-a-week barhopping and shakes her hooves at me every time I take a gamble at the casino."
He glared at Clara and spat on the ground, fuming, "Well, I'm not letting them go that easily. No, Sir. I know for a fact that Sir Bertram A Lack has just the merchandise I need to save my ailing ministry - before it goes down the tubes. I don't care if he is a bit unscrupulous. It's MY gifting, it's MY job, it's MY calling. I deserve it."
Blamer soon found the saddle, right where it had dropped off the hook the night before. He then discovered that the dog had raided his lunch satchel and was just finishing the last bit of his delicious ham- and- tuna fish sandwich. (It had already eaten the chips). What more could go wrong?
"Why, why, why?" yelled Blamer. "Why do these things always happen to me?" He gave Clara another kick, but she didn't kick him back, just lowered her head and took the abuse. Clara was miserable at the way Blamer treated her, but every time she tried to reason with him it came out as a "Heehaw."
He was too into himself to be reasoned with. Oh for a way to speak his language!
It seemed like ages by the time Blamer was ready to go. After that it was "rush, rush, rush, hurry, hurry, hurry, blame, blame, blame." Then down to the funny farm, grab a couple lame hired hands (potential pastors with crystal cathedrals on the brain), and rope them into sponsoring his online program.
"Faster, Clara, faster," he prodded his faithful donkey. "The corporate ladder can't wait! With any luck we'll soon catch up with the princes from "Maybe." Then we can all live happily ever after.
But what Blamer was contemplating was highly immoral, if not downright illegal. For his planned merger with Mr. Bertram A. Lack would in effect bury all the "little Israel" programs and bump them off the air. It was like stealing from other churches for the purposes of bolstering his own mega church - a plan he was eager to set in motion.
Clara thought this all very silly. She was already moving as fast as she could, and resented his constant goading.
"One of these days," she thought, "I'm going to have a little girl whom no one will ever beat or talk mean to. She won't be ridden by anyone but the very kindest of kings."
Just as she was thinking this, what should she see but the biggest, most frightening being standing before her with a very pointy, very dangerous looking sword in his hand!
Whoa! Now that was heavy. Heavier than Blamer. And it put the fear of God in her big time. Who cared what Blamer thought? There was only one thing to do: head for the hills!
So that's what Clara did. With Godspeed she galloped off the path as fast as her little donkey legs could carry her.
"Help!" cried Balaam. "What are you doing? This isn't according to plan!" He pulled hard on the reins, but Clara, filled with holy fear, just kept running. She ran so fast that Balaam lost his grip and fell - face first into a briar patch.
"Ow, ow, ow!" he cried. "Blasted #$@#! What's gotten into you, Clara? How could you do this to me?"
With some effort he extracted himself from the thorny leaves and branches as the servants cantered up to him. They offered to give him a hand, but he was too mad to listen. This donkey had made a fool of him, and disrespected him to boot.
So he yelled and cussed and kicked her and in general made her feel as stupid as a donkey could feel; then hopped back in the saddle as if nothing had happened.
No sooner had he reined her back onto the path than she saw Mister Pointy hand standing in the road again, ready to stick Blamer with that big sharp thing.
"Not that he doesn't totally deserve it," she thought. "But mean as he is, I really don't want to see him killed. I'd much rather see him saved, brought to Christ, moved off destruction's path before it's way too late. Besides, that dude is scary."
So off she galloped, into a big field full of watermelons. The farmer who owned the land wasn't happy to see a donkey running across the field and threw an especially ripe fruit at Blamer's hard head. Soon he was sitting in the field all wet and dripping pink and angrier than a hornet.
"Why me?" he cried. "Why me? Why do these things always happen to me?!!"
For one brief, chilling moment Clara thought of running away from him. But she was too loyal of a donkey to do so. She braced herself for more verbal abuse. Down went her head.
And crack! went the whip - the whip he'd never pied upon her back. Until now.
She was stunned by the shock. This was the first time he had actually hit her.
Again the whip came down, and again. Her sides were heaving. But the greed-aholic's bitter words cut more deeply into her than the rawhide.
"*#$&@! donkey, You're driving me %#$@K! crazy!" he shouted as he climbed back onto her and made her return to the path.
Now if Clara could have found a way to explain to Blamer what he was doing wrong, she would have. But every attempt to make him understand her side of the story proved futile.
Tears did nothing but anger him, and every "Honey, listen" fell like a rock on deaf ears. He ignored her every plea like an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand. Why, she could no more communicate to him through her mouth than she could turn herself into a camel!
That's why she let her actions speak for her. And let her feet do the talking.
Even though she knew it would cost her.
The further along they traveled, the narrower the path became, until finally Clara found herself literally stuck between the ROCK (which is Christ) and a place that was harder than hard.
Down came the whip with a crack. It ripped through her skin and burned her sides. Again and again the mad Blamer struck his faithful donkey, and for no good reason. It made no sense to the poor beast. After all, what had she ever done to harm him?
Oh why must life be so difficult? As Blamer continued to hurry her along, she had a funny feeling...
Ooh, there he was again, blocking her path, looking even more frightening than before. His sword shone bright as the sun. Too bad Blamer didn't see him standing there. If he did, he sure had a strange way of showing it.
With nowhere to turn, either to the right or to the left, Clara saw only one way to keep the foolish man's foot from evil. And that was to thrust it against the nearest wall. Which she immediately did.
"Ow, ow, ow!" he cried, dismounting from his loyal donkey and hopping around on his injured foot. Just then he heard a chuckle and turned to see his two sponsors trying hard not to laugh.
"Better to live on a corner of a roof than with a brat like that," whispered one sponsor to the other.
"Did you hear that?!" Blamer yelled at Clara. "It's all your fault they called me a gnat! But I'm not a gnat! I'm a perfectly self-controlled, grown man who has to have respect. Do you hear me? RESPECT!"
This time when he struck her he used a staff instead of a whip. And he beat her black and blue. In her own way she begged him to stop, but he was in too much of a rage. "I won't let you mock me!" he cried. "Now get a move on before I really do kill you!"
But Clara lacked the strength to keep on going. Even so, she might have tried - if only she didn't see that being standing in her path again. Because she feared the LORD more than she feared man, she fell down beneath Blamer and refused to budge.
This caused Balaam's rebellion to really flare up! The temper tantrum he threw nearly caused an avalanche.
He was in such a rage, there was no telling what he would do. Would he beat her to death? It was certainly a possibility. She braced herself for another blow, stubbornly set on doing the right thing no matter the consequences.
Then suddenly, when she least expected it, a miracle happened.
The LORD opened her mouth, and out of it came human speech - the kind thick-headed Blamer could actually understand. For one exciting moment it seemed as if she had actually managed to get through to him.
But there was no time to take in the wonder of it all, for serious matters were at stake. Now that God had opened up the lines of communication, it was up to Clara to take advantage of the moment and speak the words that needed to be spoken. For the important thing here wasn't the wonder of the unknown tongue. It was the message behind it that mattered.
And that message was this: Why had he beaten her?
What reason did he have for treating her the way he had? That was the question. And the answer was very revealing.
"You mocked me," cried Balaam.
"I'm so mad at you!
I was doing just fine
'til you ruined it all!
Now my reputation is
Dead in the dust,
Because of the way
You have unjustly fussed.
Everything's your fault!
If I had a sword
I'd cut you to pieces.
Thus saith the Lord."
Blind. Blamer was blind. Blind ambition had made him spiritually blind. In his stubborn rage he lashed out at his most loyal donkey.
But isn't that what bullies and abusers do? Do they ever think rationally?
No. They blame others for the jams they get themselves in. Then when you try to speak their language, they smack you upside the head.
Just like Clara, the donkey Blamer blamed all his problems on.
The only language she knew to speak was I Peter 3:1-6. It was the language of action, not of words. And it got her beaten for sure. But even as she obeyed God and took Blamer's beating, the Lord opened her mouth to speak Balaam's language.
It wasn't logical. It make no sense. But it was God's gift to her. As she surrendered her tongue to God, He gave her words to speak. To humbly paraphrase:
"Haven't you been pushing me to the limit ever since you got in the saddle with me? I've put up with your abuse for a long time now, but this time you've gone too far," she said. "I refuse to deny my faith in God by going contrary to His will! I fear that man with the double-edged sword more than I fear you."
As soon as humble Clara spoke those words, the LORD opened Blamer's eyes to see the angel. And the angel called him to account for the way he had treated his beloved Clara.
"If she had submitted to your disobedience," the angel told Blamer, "I would have killed you and let her live. No, don't blame her you're in this mess. You should thank God for this female who chose to stand up to you and be persecuted for righteousness' sake to save your sorry skin."
As a result of Clara's actions, Blamer's folly was restrained. God didn't allow him to curse the nation of Israel. And Clara became an example for girls everywhere who choose to stand their ground and lead by example even when it hurts, rather than fussing for their own way and their own rights. Clara did what was right, regardless of the cost. And God blessed her for it.
So Clara was vindicated. And in more ways than one.
For wasn't it such a donkey (and her foal) that a very gentle and kind king rode on his way to Jerusalem one day? Only a king is fit to ride such a donkey.
Who knows? Perhaps we shall see these noble beasts of burden in heaven one day.
In the meantime take courage, ye oft ignored and/or abused young women, whoever you may be. Take courage and do what's right, knowing that the fear of man lays a snare but the fear of God leads to life. Great is your reward in heaven, ye females who are persecuted for righteousness' sake!
And at those times when no other form of communication seems to be getting through to your persecutors, remember that actions often do speak louder than words.