Amazingly, God can use and speak through anything he chooses to communicate with his children. From situations to donkeys, all throughout Scripture God has used various modes of communication to make his message, mission, and commands clear. However, it is important to note that although God can use anything and everything he chooses, not everything and anything is God trying to communicate. In other words, we must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit leading us, helping us discern the will and ways of God. There are a few keys we can practice to discerning whether or not, or [maybe] what God is communicating. These keys are taken from Numbers 22, the passage containing the prophet Balaam and his talking donkey. The context is that Balaam is on the way with men from King Balak to curse Israel, which will hopefully lead to a King Balak victory. Balaam, at first, seems to have no intention of cursing Israel. He does not plan on going with the men until God tells him to go (Num 22:20-21). However, something happened overnight that caused God to be angry with Balaam (Num 22:22). Therefore, God, although angry, in an act of mercy and grace seeks to grab Balaam’s attention. To get Balaam’s attention the angel of the Lord blocks the donkey from moving forward on the path.

#1- What has God done or communicated to you in the past, that is different than your intentions now?

For Balaam, although under pressure from Balak to curse Israel, he knew God had told him to do “only” what he says. Something happen along the way in the heart of Balaam that caused his way to become perverse (Num 22:32), leading his heart away from the heart of God. This leads to key #2.

#2- Is there anything in your life that has caused you to become perverse, that may be prohibiting you from moving forward?

Sin is the surest way to prohibit from discerning and understanding the will and ways of God. As seen in the first key, Balaam’s heart had become perverse, therefore, he was unable to see the angel of the Lord blocking the donkey’s pathway. If this is us, we must do exactly what Balaam did, confess, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back” (Num 22:34).

#3- What is happening in the present that seems out of place, that may be God’s way of grabbing your attention and changing your heart?

God may be using it to communicate. This point goes back to the supposedly stubborn donkey who would not go forward. According to the donkey, stubbornness was uncommon. When speaking to Balaam, the donkey says, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” (Num 22:30). Balaam failed to discern his present place and circumstances. It could have been his perverseness, frustration, or fear could have lead him to lash out at his trusted donkey. Usually this is what happens to us when sin lingers in our life, we are frustrated with our path, or we are fearful of the future. Again, we must realize that Balaam was prevented from going forward because God was trying to align his heart back with his.

#4- Keep it simple: Only do and speak what God has told you.

God concludes this episode of Balaam and his talking donkey in the same way he did the night prior, “God with the men, but speak only the word that I tell you” (Num 22:35).