Balaam’s Donkey, Missions, & Memos from a Workaday Missionary

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Balaam's donkey

Balaam’s donkey?!

…Yeah.

You can’t be serious! People don’t even know what Balaam’s donkey is.

That may be true. But I do.

So your favorite Bible character is…a donkey.

Well, I identify with him. And I sympathize with him. And I guess I hope with him.

 

See, like a donkey, I’m a worker. I love working. I love seeing something productive getting done.

But … I also realize, after all these years, that I am not the greatest, the best, the one with the most potential, the one who will accomplish the most. I’m not some great leader. God made me a manager; an administrator.

Which brings me to the amazing thing about Balaam’s donkey. He was just a donkey. I sympathize with that. But here’s the stunning part of it: God can speak through donkeys!

Isn’t that beyond belief?

That means there is hope for me! God can use me too.

I’ve quit trying to have the wittiest response, the most insightful answer, the commanding presence, the coolest look. Take me, or leave me, but I’m a “me”. A donkey.

And I am convinced that God can, and is, “speaking” through me.

Unimpressive. But Vital

Of course, people aren’t impressed by donkeys. But they are surprised that God can make a donkey talk. And they benefit from the piece God provides through me.

Balaam’s donkey saw things his brilliant leader couldn’t see. And he helped to “avoid” the impending disaster.

Of course, he was rewarded with a beating, but that’s sort of par for the course, too.

And my donkey friend made it into the Bible. Not bad for a day’s work. Along with the prostitute who poured perfume on Jesus feet. That shook a few folks up too.

Then he went back to trudging along with an overweight, money-hungry Balaam sitting on his back. The mundane. The common. Yes. But it needs to be done.

I wonder whether Balaam treated his donkey with a little more respect after that? Or was he nervous to be around a weird donkey?

The Lackluster Plow

Thinking of us missionaries, how many of us “oxen” have plowed fields around the world for years and rarely heard a word of appreciation? We’re often taken for granted.

But the God who created us remembers us. He even gave the oxen and friends a special shout-out in the (quite missional) Jonah 4:11:

And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?

Job and Abraham would have been nobodies without their animals. At least in the eyes of the world.

Balaam’s Donkey, and a (Braying) Message for Missions

If you’re feeling like your gifts or job description or position mean you’re negligible in the missions world–welcome, friend. You’re in good company. Know that we’ve never known the names of some of the greatest in the Kingdom of God.

From my own perspective? Allow me to speak, if you would: It’s not bad being “just” a donkey.

Editor’s note: If you’re wondering about your “small” life, consider camping out in 1 Corinthians 12 this week. 

 

Global veteran David Armstrong has set foot in 15 countries, and confesses that Crepes and Waffles in Bogota, Colombia is one of his favorite restaurants. Catch his classic post here on 8 Ways to Help your Family Flourish Overseas.

 

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