Has God put a person or a circumstance in your life that seems to frustrate you often? I don't mean to make this sound bad, but it may. No matter how hard I try not to show my sinful self, it will come out anyway, so I might as well be honest & put it out there.
When my oldest son was 20 months old, he was diagnosed with autism.(more accurately Aspergers Syndrome). That year began a very different path in my life than I ever expected or wanted to be on. I wanted so badly to help him learn to talk, to understand, to be as normal as possible. I worked day and night with him to teach him things that would come naturally to typically developing children. Although I knew of the disability my son had, it did not stop me from getting frustrated and often times angry with him. As he got older, he progressed tremendously and I was thankful for that. God taught me A LOT about myself in those early years. However, with age and progression, his vocabulary became quite advanced, and each day of my life I feel I am on trial and my son is the judge. I am NOT impressed with feeling like I am on trial. So needless to say, when i am in this position, I feel angry. I get angry. I think sometimes the neighbors know it too. I am not pleased with myself but often times feel out of control. I feel the guilt afterward and know I was not practicing self control and therefore leave NO room for the Holy Spirit's power to fill me if I am full of myself at that moment.
I could write a book about this topic but I won't. : ) But I did want to share what the Lord showed me this week through His Word. Typically when things are difficult, I will ask the Lord to reveal to me what He wants me to see in the situation. I know He ALWAYS has something for me to learn, whether I am the one in sin, or someone has sinned against me. The bottom line is, I will not be perfect until I meet Him in glory, so I KNOW He uses every circumstance in my life to draw out my sin and refine me. I will always look for that hidden sin in my own heart.
This week as I was praying about the situation with my son (we had another huge blowup) : ( I rehearsed in my mind of how much I sacrifice for my boys. i thought of what MY desires would be for myself if I wasn't homeschooling and felt I give so much. (I was in self pity mode so give some grace here) : ) I would compare myself to others and see how much more consistent I am in discipline and THEIR kids don't act this way! I felt resentment because my oldest takes so much out of me and I feel I often times give leftovers to the other two. it was not a good day for me. I want to be honest here, so bear with me. My most sinful nature comes out with this boy and i do NOT like what I see when it comes out. The strange part is that because of this child, God has given me a tremendous love and appreciate for what Christ did on the cross because I see tangibly the disgusting nature He saved me from. I see what I would look life if I lived a life completely in the flesh, and I thank God I don't have to be enslaved to that nature (even though I give into it more times than I want to).
So why the title "Who (or what) is your donkey"? The Lord reminded me this week about the story of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22. If you're not familiar with the story, I would encourage you to read all of Numbers 22. I have pasted verses 21-34 below. After you read the verses I will share what the Lord put on my heart concerning my situation.
Balaam's Donkey - Numbers 22
21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.
24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam's foot against it. So he beat her again.
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, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she 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 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 facedown.
32 The angel of the LORD asked him, "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. [c] 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her."
34 Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, "I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back."
I want to highlight verse 32. Read it again:
The angel of the LORD asked him, "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.
I'm not trying to be funny here at all, nor disrespectful. But I saw my son as the donkey. I saw how God sees my path is a reckless one before Him and he puts these difficult circumstances in my path to CHANGE MY COURSE. It is His grace and love for me that causes this. And ultimately I am beating (getting angry) with the very instrument that God is using to REDIRECT my path, to draw out my sin, so I can confess it, repent it, and be free from that bondage, so I can be a vessel that is useful for Him.
I have noticed other "donkeys" this week as well. Pretty much anything (or person) that brings out my sin can represent the donkey. The donkey is the instrument that God is using to draw out my sin and refine me into the image of Christ. I can choose to see my sin and repent, or I can beat my donkey and blame IT for my reckless course.
As I type I am reminded of James 1:2-4
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
I have a new sense of appreciation for the difficult things in my life and know that it is God's perfect love for me that desires to make me like Christ so I can live in freedom to worship Him as He deserves. And really, there is nothing, NOTHING that compares to the joy that I have in Him. My love for Him has grown so much through the trials that I would NEVER choose a life of comfort and ease if that meant it would replace the intimacy that I have with Him. He is SO worth every hardship if it means I can know Him more!
So think about it. Who or what, is your donkey? Who or what has God put in your path to reveal your sin, to show you that your path is a reckless one before you? Don't get angry with it, but change your course!