From Debbie Wilhite
Due to rains and other circumstances it had been awhile since I’d walked the large circle of our driveway. Last week I picked up the pace, so to speak, and donned my sneakers, grabbed a book of Scriptures to meditate on as I made the rounds, and headed for the dirt path.
Just past the gate I began to notice a common distraction that had grown even more pronounced since my last walk. Ants. And anthills. Anthills galore! Hardly could I pass these up without trying to manage the population. Mind you, I don’t mind ants too much in their proper place…like some field far, far away. It’s even an astounding sight to view a termite hill raising above a thorn tree in Kruger Park. But I’m not fond of these magnificent mounds encroaching around my residency. It doesn’t matter that some of them are but a hole in the ground surrounded by grains of sand being evacuated by the diminutive creatures in preparation of a new home. Those underground houses grow!
With a set jaw, determination also settled in: those hills had to take to the hills. My nomadic feet painstakingly wandered from one spot to the next, flattening the grains, kicking over the mounds, spreading dirt, all the while being directed in a winding “as-the-donkey-goes” way. With each demolished ant-building, my mind also kept toll, slowly counting, “One..two..three..four…” In my tedious travels I had kicked over 181 hills, small and large!! (The next day I spread out 67 hills, so these ants are undaunted!)
At one location two hustling ants caught my attention as they scurried in and out past each other. I knelt down to inspect the scene, thinking they were occupied carrying sand out of the hole. Instead, to my surprise, these comrades were choosing grains of sand to carry into the hole. It amazed me to see how busy they were about something seemingly so small. Two familiar passages in Proverbs about the ant automatically came to mind. In the ensuing days, this “sluggard” became a student as I attempted to study Proverbs 6:6-8 and 30:25 as well as meditate on those busy-bodies occupying the territory around (and unfortunately inside) our house.
Here’s what I found. These busy workers are proverbial for “industry.” In every country worldwide these insects are accepted and admired for their hard work. They work without supervision, being dependable and responsible for their own task, no matter how meager it may appear to me. As I observed a trail of workers passing each other as though on lanes of a highway, or yielding to one another upon entering or exiting the hole, the unity and cooperation of the clan amazed me. Believe it or not, no matter how much I stared at them, or kicked at their hill, not one ant stopped to stare back! They continued working even when it appeared strange to me. They kept on unintimidated even in the face of opposition, until death stopped them. If thwarted one way, they sought another way to get the job done. Inside the house we’ve swept them up, set ant traps, sprayed Raid…only to have them come up in another area.
Ants are known for their foresight. Showing their wisdom and prudence, they plan and prepare ahead for times when food will be scarce, collecting their meat in due seasons. Nests are often made close to wherever their favorite food is found. I read that there are 104 types of ants in the Eastern Hemisphere, although only 2 are “harvesting ants” as described in Proverbs. These nest near grain fields, threshing floors, or granaries. Who but God could have taught them to also cut off the ends of the grain to prevent it from germinating! Then they lay it up in cells within the maze of their complex colonies until it is needed. It is said that they are adaptable to variable cultures and climates as well. The habits differ, for instance, with ants in cool vs. tropical locations.
Truly these are “a people,” seeing how they occupy houses, towns, public roads, and so on. The social habits would probably amaze me as well if I could crawl inside the earth to study that as well!
So, I have considered her ways. How will I be wise? Perhaps I need to be more purposeful. Or maybe being careful and mindful of my own work, I would seek the Lord’s will and just simply do it, content with the position and calling of God. Will I learn not to be distracted by others’ successes or disheartened by yet others’ waywardness? Continuing to plod, using what energy and grace God grants day by day, I need to work even in the face of opposition to accomplish His will. And I need to adapt to wherever God places me.
What a joy to be in the Lord’s will. What a privilege to serve Him in a country replete with every-day illustrations from nature that often reflect spiritual truths of God. What a blessing to have the Word of God which teaches us about even the littlest things like the ant.