Gifted with particularly sharp vision as he has, the seer Balaam would have been at home piled in the backseat of our family sedan. And I mean piled. As many as ten of us shared the space at times. Window seats were coveted, since the ride home always included a contest to see who would be the first to spot our house. The first to see started the chant: "I can see our house from here!" If one could see then all could see, and the chant grew louder and more rapid and continued until we pulled into the driveway: "I can see our house from here. I can see our house from here. Icanseeourhousefromhere. Icanseeourhousefromhere." A number of us, despite being at the bottom center of the backseat heap with a view of only backsides and elbows, could still "see" our house more than five miles away. In our mind and heart, we could see it, and so it was there.
Balaam did not have the best vantage point to see and hear all that he did either. He was not an Israelite (think: bottom center of a heap), yet God still used him as a mouthpiece. Summoned by an enemy king to curse the Israelites, Balaam can utter only blessing. What God says is true, Balaam knows to be true. What God sees, Balaam sees too. Balaam sees the Israelites encamped in the desert, but so much more: "a king that will rise and be exalted"…"a star that will advance from Jacob and a staff that will rise from Israel."
In this third week of Advent, do you see what Balaam sees? Rather, who Balaam sees? God incarnate, dwelling among us in the humble abode of a newborn baby.
We can see God's house from here.
Reflected by Mary Stommes
Mary Stommes is editor of Give Us This Day.