Bet you’re thinking this is going to be about blessings and pearls of wisdom. Oh, they’re in the Bible and they’re abundant. But that’s not what’s on my mind today. I’m thinking about a …. (wait for it) donkey. This morning, Steve and I read one of my favorite funny stories. And it’s found in God’s Word.
I think almost any story can be told even better with the addition of humor (note I said almost). The Bible is no exception. So I’m going to paraphrase a couple of the best.
First Funny Story – Acts 20
The apostle Paul is speaking and he doesn’t even begin his message until midnight – a no-no for any public speaker. A guy named Eutychus is sitting on the third-floor window sill and he falls asleep. Paul hadn’t yet learned the cardinal rule in his speech classes: The mind can only absorb what the seat can endure.
This dude Eutychus doesn’t just nod off. He sinks into a deep sleep. He tumbles out of the window, dies, and Paul keeps on talking. Paul doesn’t even take a breath until he pauses to bring the guy back to life. Then he keeps on talking until the sun comes up, like this is the most normal thing in the world. Poor Eutychus is probably thinking, “Man, what do you have to do to get this windbag to stop?” (Sorry, no disrespect intended.)
Second Funny Story – Numbers 22
Finally, the donkey story. This story made me think about the critical role donkeys, fairly lowly creatures, have played in the Bible. In a couple days, I’ll write about another donkey. But today’s donkey story also involves two guys who I can never keep straight, Balaam and Balak. (As a writer, I think I would have changed one of their names so it wouldn’t be so confusing to the reader. But I digress.)
Balaam hops on his donkey to talk to Balak, knowing full well that God told him not to and going off anyway. Never a good idea. God plops an angel in the road to stop him, but Balaam can’t see him. The donkey does, however, and the faithful animal swerves into a field. Balaam beats her. They keep going, and the angel stands in the way again. This time they’re in a narrow path, so the donkey moves over and crushes Balaam’s foot. Balaam beats her again. The third time the angel appears, there’s nowhere for the donkey to go, so she just lays down. Balaam beats the tar out of her this time.
The donkey is so mad she speaks. She asks Balaam, “Why do you keep beating me?” So Balaam just answers his donkey and calls her a fool. He doesn’t seem a bit surprised that his donkey has learned how to talk. It’s the most normal thing in the world. (Sound familiar? Some people in the Bible had come to expect God to intervene in a miraculous way.)
The donkey then resorts to logic. “Have I ever done this before?” At this point, God enables Balaam to see the angel, with his sword drawn. The angel asks him the same question the donkey did. Balaam admits that he sinned and agrees to do what the angel commands, which is to only speak the words God puts in his mouth. So he goes on with Balak’s people.
But he never apologizes to his donkey. He never hugs his donkey and says “Thank you!” His donkey clearly saved his life. Three times. And her thanks are three beatings. His donkey only spoke the words the Lord put in his mouth.
What if I only did that? Wouldn’t my life be revolutionized, and a whole lot less complicated, if I thought and prayed more — and first, and spoke less? I’d find a great decrease in my frequent ailment, foot-in-mouth disease.
I want to be more like the donkey. Slow to speak and faithful. I don’t just want the simple faith of a child. I want the simple faith of a donkey.