We have talked about the more traditional ways that God speaks to us including through the Bible, Preachers etc., Prayer and worship. Now let’s talk about the non-traditional, crazy ways he talks to us like the time he let a donkey talk to get someone's attention.
Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went off with the noblemen from Moab. As he was going, though, God's anger flared. The angel of God stood in the road to block his way. Balaam was riding his donkey, accompanied by his two servants. When the donkey saw the angel blocking the road and brandishing a sword, she veered off the road into the ditch. Balaam beat the donkey and got her back on the road.
But as they were going through a vineyard, with a fence on either side, the donkey again saw God's angel blocking the way and veered into the fence, crushing Balaam's foot against the fence. Balaam hit her again.
God's angel blocked the way yet again—a very narrow passage this time; there was no getting through on the right or left. Seeing the angel, Balaam's donkey sat down under him. Balaam lost his temper; he beat the donkey with his stick.
Then God gave speech to the donkey. She said to Balaam: "What have I ever done to you that you have beat me these three times?"
Balaam said, "Because you've been playing games with me! If I had a sword I would have killed you by now."
The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your trusty donkey on whom you've ridden for years right up until now? Have I ever done anything like this to you before? Have I?"
He said, "No."
Then God helped Balaam see what was going on: He saw God's angel blocking the way, brandishing a sword. Balaam fell to the ground, his face in the dirt.
God's angel said to him: "Why have you beaten your poor donkey these three times? I have come here to block your way because you're getting way ahead of yourself. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she hadn't, I would have killed you by this time, but not the donkey. I would have let her off."
See I wasn’t kidding, God used a donkey to talk to a guy! The thing is, God is God. That may sound obvious but being God, he can do what ever he wants. He can use anything, anytime, anywhere to talk to us. Sometimes I think he likes using something crazy like a donkey to talk to us just to get our attention.
Don’t ever put God in a box. Don’t ever try to limit how you are willing to hear from him. If you do, you risk missing out on some of the truly great experiences in life.
One of the ways that God talks to me is through circumstances. One of my constant struggles is that I am a doer. That is, I like to accomplish things. I like to get things done. Now that may not sound like a bad thing and sometimes it isn’t but sometimes, I get so caught up in doing stuff and getting stuff done that, like Balaam, I get out in front of God’s plans for me. I start forcing things to happen before it’s time.
Several years ago, God used circumstances to teach me about this problem. At that time, I was going through a season when I was really trying to push things, to make things happen. As usual, I kind of knew that I was doing it, but I was too caught up in it to see it as harmful or out of God’s will. Over a series of weeks, I started to notice a pattern. I began to notice that I kept literally opening doors on things I shouldn’t.
For example, I was at work and I needed my boss’ signature on something. His door was closed, but I was really focused on getting that signature, so I knocked and just walked in (NOT a good idea…ever). I walked in on my boss, the president of the company and my co-worker who was “being let go.”
Then a few days later, I was scheduled to be interviewed to be a deacon at my church. I went to the room where the interview was to take place and the door was closed and locked. It happened to be a room where I had been doing Prison Ministry, so I knew the combination to the lock box. So, I pop open the lock box and go barging into the room, only to barge in on another candidate’s interview. This kept happening, different situations for several weeks.
Then I went on a trip to Greece and it continued to happen there. We were at a museum, I was looking for the bathroom, opened a door into what I guess was a room where they repaired the exhibits…you have never heard people yell SO LOUD in your life! I have no idea what they were saying but I can tell you they were not happy! Then, we were on a boat visiting the islands off of the coast of Greece. I was looking for the bathroom again. I found it but the door was kind of sticking. “Huh, that’s weird.” I thought to myself and yanked it as hard as possible. It came flying open and there was this poor Asian woman, using the bathroom and scared to death by the huge crazy American woman who just broke the door down! I didn’t speak her language, she didn’t speak mine, so I couldn’t even really apologize.
Finally I realized that this was happening so frequently there must be something that I needed to learn from all of this, beyond just the obvious that I should stop going through doors that I shouldn't go through, and I began to pray. I have learned that something that happens once or twice can be a coincidence, but once it happens three times or more, God is often trying to get my attention.
As I began to pray and ask God what I was supposed to understand about this, he started to show me that this is what happens when I charge ahead of him. I end up in places at the wrong time, not getting to the thing I was trying to get to and sometimes, scaring the pants off of people.
For the rest of the trip, I felt like he told me that I was literally not to open any doors (unless it was to get out of a room that I was alone in). It sounds crazy, but I did it and I learned a lot from this exercise. In the end, I can’t say that I am completely changed. I still sometimes get caught up in doing and get out ahead of God’s will for my life. However, I am a lot quicker to realize it and when I do, I can picture the woman’s face from the bathroom on the boat, remember what I learned from the exercise of not opening any doors for a week and more quickly get back into God’s will for my life.
The Rule of Three:
I briefly mentioned the “Rule of three” above and we also saw it in the story about the donkey talking to Balaam. I don’t remember who first pointed this out to me but I have found it to be very true. When God is really trying to get my attention about something, he will usually bring it up in at least three different ways in pretty quick succession.
For example, recently my Pastor posted a short message on Facebook regarding God’s funding of ministry and that if God gave you the vision, he will provide the funding. Later that same day, I got an email from someone completely unconnected to my church that had the same message. The next day, I was talking to a friend on the phone and they started talking about the same thing. So, God has my attention…I am still waiting to see what this one means or how it plays out in my life, but he has my attention.
Exercise to hear God in the unexpected places:
Think about the last month. Identify any things that seemed to be repeatedly happening or brought to your attention (e.g. three or more times). Write them down and pray. Ask God to give you wisdom about them. Continue to think about it until you get your answer.
The point is, God can and will talk to us anytime, anywhere and using any means, if we will just pay attention. When we pay attention, when we hear him, when we do what he tells us to do, we get closer to him and our lives are better. Our lives become more fulfilling, more full of joy and make a bigger difference to the people around us.