One of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou goes something like this:
"When someone shows themselves to you...believe them the FIRST time."
Admittedly, it has taken me a long time to learn how to live this out. I still haven't really "gotten" this wisdom. But I find with each passing year, each journey behind me, "riding on the back of every mistake" as one poem said, I find this playing out in my life more and more.
Maya was teaching Oprah that once a person reveals their truest self to you (and it's negative, evil, bitter, etc.)...don't go back for more...learn THAT lesson the first time.
I try to apply this wisdom to lessons that God tries to teach me. One of my prayers has been "God don't make me crash and burn over the same fault over and over. Give me wisdom to see the sin, mistake, etc. and let me learn the lesson the FIRST time."
As I started reading this morning about Balaam and his donkey, I was reminded of this principle. Balaam takes off on his donkey to apparently go somewhere to do something God does not want him to do. He, like me at times, is blind to the fact that he is headed down a dangerous pathway. God sends an angel to stand in the middle of his pathway, but only the donkey (or other preferable names) can see the angel. When the donkey tries to turn around, Balaam beats the poor animal. They continue on. Down the wrong path. Angel appears to the donkey again...blocking his path...Balaam is still blind to his own stupidity of this wrong pathway...He beats the donkey mercilessly. Third time, the donkey sees the angel and cannot get past him, so he squeezes against the wall and crushes Balaam's foot. Balaam is enraged and begins to beat the animal again...but this time the Lord opens the donkey's mouth. Mr. Donkey cries out "Why are you beating me? Haven't I always been good to you? Do I not look out for you?" (my words)
As Balaam begins to argue with the donkey, God opens his eyes and he finally sees the angel.
God's angel says "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it."(Numbers 22:32-33)
Balaam realizes the donkey has been trying to protect him from his wrong path and choices...He repents and is turned right on his wrong road.
I find it so interesting that God used something beloved (donkey) of Balaams...something he trusted...to try to stop his wrong decision...thrice...
God often tries to show me something or someone through a trusted friend, a mentor, His word...yet I continue on my little journey of selfish endeavors until He shows me the third (and painful) time.
I believe God was telling us through Balaam's story...learn your lessons the FIRST time. I believe He says to us, "When I show you something or someone is not my plan for you...believe me the first time. Stop. Repent. Turn around. There is no need for you to be injured before you learn this lesson."
God wants us to "get" the lesson before He has to injure us to get our attention.
I'm grateful for many things in this story...grateful he keeps pursuing us even when he has to break us to get our attention...I'm wrecked over the goodness that He is limitless in his pursuit of us in our sin...I'm grateful He shows us that we can choose His path the first time and learn this discipline to save ourselves and others the heartache of repeat mistakes and wrong paths...
God of the talking donkey...pretty cool.
Grace n Peace,