My friend provided temporary lodging to a woman with a mental illness. Helen (as I will call my friend) had taken in the needy single lady out of compassion but was often afraid of her, especially at night when Helen would hear the woman milling about downstairs, sometimes laughing to herself, sometimes talking agitatedly at no one in particular.
One day Helen’s daughter, who had strayed far from God, was in the living room, and Helen overheard her house guest give this prodigal the gospel in no uncertain terms. All the necessary elements were there: the truths about sin, about God, about the need for repentance, about salvation in Christ alone. Helen realized to her shame that she had never been so bold and clear in her presentation of truth to her children. In relating the story to me, Helen remarked, “When God’s people are not doing what they should, He raises up strange messengers.”
So then, what a “sane” person did not have the courage to say to Helen’s offspring, a mentally ill person of no relation to the child was raised up by God to do so. And why not? God went so far as to employ a donkey to speak to the greedy prophet-for-hire Balaam. You and I are accustomed to the amusing story, but until Helen shared her own tale I had never considered the fact that there may have been no human available to do the job! Could it be that He was able to shame our poor species by enlisting the aid of a lowly beast of burden?
After all, we know from the mouth of Jesus Himself that if the citizens of Jerusalem had not sung his praises at the temple when he rode into town, God would have handed the assignment to the gravel of the streets:
“And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:39–40, ESV).
God will do what He has to do. But why would you and I want to be embarrassed by such unlikely messengers when we should join them in their bold proclaiming?