When we were children, many of us learned to play the game of “Simon Says.” In this game a leader called out directions to the group.
If the directions were prefaced with the words, “Simon says,” the group was supposed to do what the leader said.
But if the directions were not prefaced with “Simon says,” then the group was to ignore the instructions.
That sounds pretty simple. However, it was a lot harder than one might think. After hearing similar instructions, it was easy to let one’s mind wonder or anticipate what the leader was going to say, instead of listening.
If any member of the group messed up, they were out. Gradually, as directions were given faster and more convincingly, even the most focused people fouled out.
Finally there was one person left. It was the one who had listened the most intently and followed everything “Simon” said and refused to do anything “Simon” didn’t say.
In the same way, the path to living the Christian Life comes from listening to God, and doing exactly what He says to do when He says to do it. And by the same token, we should not follow anything He didn’t say.
There was once a man named Balaam. He was considered a holy man. Balaam sought God and followed what He said.
When a king asked Balaam to put a curse on some people, Balaam correctly responded by saying,
“I will report back to you with the answer The Lord gives me.”
And, of course, The Lord said no!
“You must not put a curse on these people, because they are blessed.”
The king tried harder to convince Balaam by offering to reward him and do what he said.
Balaam correctly replied, saying,
“I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of The Lord my God.”
That same night, God told Balaam to go with the king’s men, BUT …
“Do only what I tell you.”
Here is where Balaam went off track. It is the same point at which many of us foul out.
Often we hear a real Word from The Lord, and we praise Him for it. Then we think, “I’ve got this!” And we stop listening and take off on our own. We may check back in with God, expecting Him to rubber stamp what we are doing. Meanwhile Satan has snuck in.
Balaam got up the next morning and headed out with the king’s men. God was very angry. Why? Hadn’t He told Balaam to go? Yes! But what were His next instructions? Balaam was to do only what God told him.
When God was ready to give His next instructions that next morning, Balaam was too busy packing to listen.
What followed was a frustrating journey for Balaam, which included his committing repeated animal abuse. To read the full story, read Numbers 22:21-34.
The summary is that God sent His angel to repeatedly oppose Balaam. But again Balaam was so intent on carrying out what he believed were God’s instructions that he stopped listening to God.
Finally in a masterful bit of creativity, God had His Angel speak to Balaam through his donkey. That got Balaam’s attention!
Balaam acknowledged his sin and listened to The Lord again. God instructed Balaam to
“Speak only what I tell you.”
When Balaam arrived at the king’s place, the king asked him what took him so long to get there.
Balaam finally understood The Life Game of “God Says.”
“Well, I have come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But I can’t say whatever I please. I just speak only what God puts in my mouth.”
I invite you to join with me in recommitting to listening to every instruction from God, moment to moment. He does not give us orders and send us out on our own while He sits and waits for our report. He is with us and guides our every step.
“The Lord is The One Who directs a person’s steps. How then can anyone understand his own way?”