It is amazing how God has prepared us for the field. Average every day events we have gone through in our lives, jobs that we have held, friends we have met, sermons we have heard, etc, all have gone into molding us and preparing us for what we are facing now that we actually live on the mission field.
Maybe some of you have read the story “Berenstains’ A Book.” I have read it many times to my children over the past few years, but I had never paid much attention to it until recently. The opening line of the book is “Angry ants advance!” Let me tell you a little story to illustrate God’s preparation for us on deputation.
This June we had a four day missions conference in Mobile, AL, so we packed up the family, and headed south. When we arrived in Mobile on a Wednesday afternoon, it was a bright, sunny day, but as we continued to drive toward the church, the skies began to darken. By the time we were a couple of miles away from the church, the heavens opened, and it pretty much rained non-stop the entire five days we were there.
Thankfully the house that we were staying at had a three stall car port that we were able to pull under to load and unload. The family that we were staying with had three cars, so I would unload our family under the car port then pull into the grass at the end of the drive to park so that everyone could use the car port for loading and unloading. We were meeting the pastor and the other missionary families Saturday morning around 11 for lunch. Well because of all the rain, by Saturday there was quite a bit of standing water in the grass, so I just ran to the van, then pulled up onto the drive to load up. We were about halfway to the restaurant when I heard a blood curdling scream from the back seat. Julia spun around and tried to get Chloe settled down, she asked her what was wrong and she screamed out “THERE’S AN ANT ON ME!” We brushed it off and told her to settle down. A couple seconds later, Callie said “Mommy, I have an ant on me too!” We stated to look around, and the van was absolutely infested with ants! I mean, to tell you, I had never seen that many ants in one place in my life! They were EVERYWHERE! They must have been looking for a dry place to hang out in the deluge. Once they got in there, they must have though they had struck it rich and ended up at the all you can eat buffet! I mean have you ever looked under a kids carseat? It was like a gold mine of goldfish, fruitsnacks, and dried lemonade!
We tried for the next month to get the ants out of the van. We bug bombed it, we cleaned it, we sprayed it, we put out ant traps, we did everything we could think of to get rid of them. They were even in the vents! We would be driving down the road weeks later and all the sudden an ant would launch out of vent at your face! It was craziness! Julia would sit and pick ants off my shirt while I was driving to church. We had the “I think I have an ant on me so I am itchy everywhere” syndrome. It was awful! I finally figured out that they were living on the bottom of the van and in the engine area, so the cleaning of the interior was not helping. I parked it in the garage, bombed the inside and out, let the air circulate the poison through the vents, and we finally got victory over the ants!!!
So why do I tell you that story? How could God be preparing us for the field by sending the plague of ants? Well guess what? We have ants again! This time they are in and around our house. We have to keep everything sealed in air tight containers. They are so crafty, they even got into a jar of peanut butter. How do they crawl through a screw top jar? That just baffles me! We have tile floors and we have to sweep like 5 times a day. If one crumb gets left on the floor, the “angry ants advance”! We even have to clean the toaster thoroughly after every use, rinse the dishes before they go in the sink, and we now keep the open peanut butter in the fridge!
We could get bitter, we could get mad, we could ask why, we could get frustrated; but instead, I think we should ask, “God what are you trying to teach us though these ants?”
Pr 6:6 “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:”
We have a job to do as Christians. We must be diligent about our work as we try to reach the lost with the Gospel! Our time is growing short. I am not saying we were sluggards, so God brought us ants to consider their ways, but I am saying that we can learn from them. I am not sure any of us work with the same zeal that an ant works with. My prayer is that when my time here on earth draws to an end that God can look at me and my work for Him and see that I considered the ant’s ways.