Balaam is a man with a reputation for being more spiritually attuned than the rest of the crowd. He’s some sort of international, polytheistic diviner sought out by kings, but does he really know God? It takes a protesting, talking donkey to stop him in his tracks long enough to have his eyes opened by God to see the danger ahead. I need to remember this story next time I get stuck in traffic or behind the slow shopper (with the full basket) who holds up the check out line.
My study Bible indicates that Balaam knew enough about God to report back to Balak what God said, BUT (warning: spoiler alert) not enough to prevent him from offering up sacrifices to false gods or practicing repulsive forms of divination (see Joshua 13:22). This eventually becomes his undoing. The Pharisees were no less guilty of keeping God at arms length. They were happy to have God make them look acceptable on the outside, but drew the line when it came to allowing God to change them from the inside out. Truth be told, I can be just like Balaam, just like the Pharisees.
So how do I not just know about God, but KNOW Him? What does it mean to have a “personal relationship” with the almighty and holy God? I don’t have a bullet point answer. This I know so far: it means telling God about the wrong within and accepting his grace and forgiveness. It’s been about falling down and getting back up again. It’s meant extending grace received when it seems impossible. It’s been about reading the Scriptures and letting them settle down in my soul. It’s meant praying and talking to God, telling Him thank you and praising Him for who He is. It’s meant being still and quiet.
I started on this road over 40 years ago and I feel like I am just beginning to learn what it means to have a “personal relationship” with God. What has it meant for you?