“Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff.”
Balaam was stuck. He and his donkey were tightly wedged in a narrow place between two sheer rock precipices. The beast of burden would not budge. She came to a halt and “lay down under Balaam.” The prophet was infuriated. He was stuck. There was nothing productive or intelligent left for Balaam to do so... he got mad and beat his donkey.
The poor animal was not at fault. She was forced to stop by an invisible angel who “took his stand in the way as an adversary against” Balaam (Numbers 22.22). She was an innocent and unfortunate bystander caught in the midst of a conflict between Lord of Heaven and a disobedient prophet. Constrained by the power of God, the creature had no option but to stop and suffer abuse at the hand of her master.
Balaam was stuck for a reason. God wanted a word with him. I’ve been similarly stuck, crammed into a tight, dark space and rendered motionless by circumstances and people beyond my control. I’ve lashed out at the those I perceived stood between me and the destination of my choosing.
Stuck is an interesting place to be. There’s a reason I get wedged “in a narrow place” with “no room to turn, either to the right or to the left.” God wants a word with me. It’s a familiar place beckoning me to attend another ‘come to Jesus’ meeting. The message is always the same...
- Listen to God early, before I get stuck.
- When I am stuck, don’t blame the donkey.
"Balaam and the Ass" is by Pieter Lastman (ca. 1583–1633), painter from the Netherlands who is most known as Rembrandt van Rijn's art instructor. For Rembrandt's version of "Balaam and the Ass," go to http://www.artbible.info/art/large/199.html.