We all know that we need rain. The amount that we have had this year is amazing; especially when compared with recent years. However, I think we could all admit that this year’s numbers are a bit skewed. We might very well be above our average rainfall for the year, but the fact that so much of it came in basically two or three days means that we have had some issues to deal with.
As my family and I were driving through Bastrop last weekend, we were amazed by the amount of water we saw. After the system that dropped so much rain on Central Texas left us, it went east and dumped a bunch more rain on our friends and family to the east. I saw so many unbelievable reports on Facebook of the damage caused by so much rain. While there are many major issues introduced by all this water, I want to highlight a relatively minor one by comparison. Nevertheless, it is something that is frustrating to me.
What’s the deal with all these ants? I am convinced that the grass that was laid down at our house when it was built (about 5 years ago now) came with the ants pre-installed. Every time it rains, more and more ant piles show up. I go and buy fire ant granules and try and get rid of them, but more and more keep showing up! As I was watching all the news reports out of South East Texas about the rain, there was even a crazy moment when a news reporter had to get out of the way; not because water was coming through, but because an ant pile was floating by – still intact!
Well, in my never ending effort to see the positive in all situations, I have decided to say something nice about these ants. Yes, they mess up our yard and cause considerable pain if you ever try to invade their territory, but we can learn a thing or two from them. As a matter of fact, Proverbs 6:6-8 tells us to do just that:
“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”
This section of Proverbs is giving us wisdom about how not to be lazy, but instead, to use our God-given energy, knowledge, and talents to do the good that God has for us each day. If we will do that, then we will be prepared for both the good times and the lean ones as well.
I think that these Texas ants can teach us this lesson, as well as some others along the way. Perseverance is definitely one thing we can learn from them. No matter what happens, they manage to survive. A couple of weeks ago, I was led by God to preach a message about this idea of perseverance. The question is this: how do we, as believers, keep move forward (with joy and enthusiasm) in our walk with God? Sure, we can start off excited about knowing and serving God, but how do we stay that way after the wear and tear of a few years? On that particular morning, I mentioned some ways that we can keep our passion and joy in our walk with God. Here are some of the items on that list.
First, think about your friendships. The company we keep is so important to our walk with God. Let me start with this: stay away from negativity. Misery absolutely loves company. We have to make a commitment to constantly check our attitude as well as to be careful with who we are allowing to influence us. You and I might have to say “good-bye” to some friendships that simply are not spiritually healthy for us. At the very least, we need to have a conversation with our friends and try to work those relationships into ones that build us up instead of tearing us down. Just think about how much we could grow if we had friends that encouraged us along the way. This is certainly something that the ants could teach us. The fact that they stay together certainly increases their chance for survival.
Second, beware of busyness. Many times, we wear “busyness” as a badge of honor. After all, we are supposed to be like those ants, right? We are not supposed to be lazy. I think we all know the difference between being lazy and simply getting the rest that is needed for both our physical and spiritual well-being. Are we able to spend time alone with God on a regular basis? Do we feel His power and presence in our decisions and plans? Do we feel prepared to face difficult times that might be approaching in life? If the answer to these questions is “no”, then we might very well be outrunning God with all the “stuff” we feel like we need to get done. Don’t be busy just for the sake of busyness; stay in step with what the Lord wants for your life.
And third, always remember where your joy came from in the first place. Our joy did not come from circumstances or anything that we created on our own. The joy that we originally had in our walk with God came because someone told us of a God who loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. It came because we found out that God is willing to forgive all of our sins and mistakes and make us new. And, it came because we began to get to know this God and to live our lives with a purpose. Sometimes it really is as simple as remembering the beginning. I cannot say it any better than Paul did in Colossians 2:6,
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him”
The joy we had in the beginning is still there to be had, we just have to remember to keep going back to God over and over again. Our joy is found in our relationship with Him!
I have to say that I am impressed with the perseverance of these ants. No matter what I try and do to them, they keep on coming back. And, I feel like we, as believers, want to know that we can persevere no matter what as well. In life, we will face all kinds of issues that will try and knock us down, but there is a way to survive. I believe the key really is pretty simple if we will just believe it: stay close to God and He promises to stay close to us!