Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a man who had powers to bring blessings or curses upon people. He was a fortuneteller and knew all kinds of spells. He was considered a pagan, and he subscribed to all gods Ö or at least the gods who profited him at the time.
He was asked by an ancient king to come and curse a certain group of people. The king sent two separate entourages to this fortuneteller, with large sums of money, to entreat him to work his magic. The first time, the man said no because the Lord had told him not to curse this people.
The second time the man agreed and said he could speak only what the Lord put in his mouth. He set off on his donkey, the preferred mode of travel, in order to please the king. God devised a plan to get the manís attention. He scared that donkey so bad it started to wander off into a field. The man beat the donkey until she was under his submission.
Again, the donkey became so scared she crushed the manís foot against a stone wall. Again, the man beat the donkey.
The third time, the donkey simply laid down. The man got off and began beating this poor creature that had made a fool of him not once, but three times!
There before his very eyes, the donkey opened her mouth and spoke. At that moment, the manís eyes were opened and he saw the angel of the Lord who stood in their path with a sword. This perspicacious donkey saved the manís life!
God said he saw perverse things in the manís heart and reminded him yet again to speak only Godís words. Trembling in fear, face down on the ground, the man promised obedience.
And obedience is exactly what God received from the man, for the time being. There were no curses; however, there is a twist to the story Ö the man found a way to corrupt the special group of people Ö he told the women of the threatened city to seduce the men of the blessed group, thereby tainting them.
The man ends up dying by the sword in a war waged to wreak vengeance on the ancient king and his kingdom for defiling the special group.
Yes, you guessed it, the man is Balaam. The land far away is real and the story itself is found in the book of Numbers. But Ö why did the Lord go to all this trouble to stop a man who had clearly said he would not curse the people?
God saw his heart. God knew the choices Balaam would make because he could not understand; he could not see; he could not hear. Balaamís heart was not after Godís heart.
Decision, decisions, decisions!
Will I wear the blue dress or the red one with flowers? Will I turn off the television when the Lordís name is taken in vain, or will I chalk it up to societal corruption and keep watching? Will I take the time to teach my children the right way to handle situations at school, or do I just hope they muddle through on their own? Will I speak when the Spirit says speak, or do I suddenly become mute when spiritual matters are breached?
From the smallest decisions to the largest ones Ö choices abound each and every day. The choices we make determine the lives we live. Our choices stem from our hearts. What is in our hearts is determined by what we, in our astute wisdom, decide to place there.
ďYou will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this peopleís heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.Ē (Matthew 13: 14-15 NIV)
Have we yet come to the point where we can see and hear and understand Ö or are our hearts calloused? Can we discern right from wrong and then act on the right choice Ö the one which pleases God? Have we developed a shrewd attitude toward sin?
Iíd rather be no more than a donkey with insight, than a person with a calloused heart.
Easy decision to make.
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