A Donkey Spoke

 

In our first issue, we had an article called Story, Stage and Celluloid, which was a watered down, “history of theatre in 10 minutes” type of article. I learned some interesting things in college about theatre that weren’t intentionally taught in class but noticed a pattern…

The fact that all cultures have a common heritage of some type of theatre, makes me believe that we have a common parentage. What’s even more interesting is that every culture has a legend of a king, god, or warrior that sacrifices himself for others.  Sound familiar? It’s my personal belief that if we have a common parentage, the descendants of Adam and Eve who went astray, did not completely forget about the promise of a savior. Of course, many people would disagree with me on this, but no matter how many self righteous “believers” would argue that the less worthy are incapable of speaking God’s message, God proves over and over again that he does just that.    

A few years ago I was attending a business training conference and the speaker told us a story of when she started coaching others about creating and building relationships. She taught the concept of Karma, which is the belief that your actions determine your fate (or in layman’s terms “what goes around, comes around”). She had since then become a Christian and discovered the law of reaping and sowing which, to her amazement, came from the bible before quantum physics repackaged it into the concept of “Karma.” She laughed at herself, saying that even though this was before she was a follower of Christ, he was already using her and speaking through her like the donkey in Numbers 22:28-29. The passage goes like this:

26 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.27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell face down.

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The point of this story is that God can use anyone he wishes to get his message out. Even if that person doesn’t know WHO the most High God is (in this case, a dumb animal like a donkey). This is one of the reasons I enjoy commentary and discussions about film, music and art. I truly believe that God speaks through artists even when they have no intention to be his vessel. 

Take for example the seers and sibyls of Greece. The Sibyls were prophetic women who were also writers and poets. Some of their writings for told the coming of Christ with as much, if not more, detail and important expectation as the Hebrew prophets. Many believed this was God using pagans of influence to prepare the Gentiles for the coming of Christ. One such person who believed this was Michelangelo who painted the Sistene Chapel with several of the sibyls (Libya, Cumaea, Erythraea, Persia and Delphica) as well as the prophets Daniel, Isaiah and Ezechiel. 

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One of my favorite films is Amadeus. The life of Mozart may be exaggerated for dramatic purposes but I love the irony of Antonio Salieri, who asks God to give him the gift of music in exchange for his purity. He desperately wants God to speak through him in his compositions, bringing more glory to God (although it’s obvious he craves glory for himself). Instead of being granted this not-so-humble wish, he discovers the one God bestows it on…a young, crude, obnoxious, amateur composer who has no idea he’s been given this gift. Salieri, of course, is infuriated, but is still in awe of this strange man’s gift, simply because he HEARS the voice of God in his music. His hatred and admiration for the “creature” throw him in constant turmoil. So much for being “pure.”  

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God shows up everywhere and he can chose whomever he wishes to speak through, whether it’s St. John the Baptist wondering in the desert, a prostitute, a flamboyant composer, the ancient Greeks, the three wise men, Native American paintings in caves, the homeless guy on the corner, or a donkey. 

Why does he do it? Why does he choose to speak through those that many would deem unworthy of his message in the first place? No clue, but I think he likes to keep things interesting…and keep us humble. Speaking and listening to God is one of mankind’s core desires, even if he’s convinced himself that he could take it or leave it. It’s one of God’s ways of taking us by surprise, like Balaam and his donkey. The element of surprise and getting our attention like this makes us “open” our eyes and ears.

For those who actively search for God’s voice in all things, he will speak to you and love you for your hunger. Just be careful in your eagerness, that you know the difference between listening to God through a vessel, and when you’re just listening to an ass. 

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