Consider the Ant

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! – Proverbs 6:6

It started about two months ago during the drought: an unrelenting parade of tiny ants in our master bathroom. They first were there for water, so when rainy season started, I expected them to find their way back outside, where they could eat and drink to their heart’s content. But no.

They continue to invade despite the barrier around our house, courtesy of our pest control company. They continue to invade despite the bait on the bathroom backsplash.

I have hated them. I have killed them. And now I respect them – because they taught me something I desperately needed to remember.

They don’t give up.

A colony of ants is like a superorganism that has been compared with a single body consisting of many parts. Everything ants do is focused on doing what is necessary to survive, thrive and make baby ants. They live and die to accomplish their goals.

They are missional.

They communicate information to one another – their mission – through pheromones sensed with their antennae. Once given their marching orders, they do just that: march. And they keep marching until their marching orders change.

They are resilient.

They’re busy at work early each morning, when I find them in a steady stream behind and in my sink. They’re busy at work every evening. Even when their scouts don’t return because I have flushed them down the toilet, more ants come because their mission statement hasn’t been rescinded. They know the cost and are willing to pay it.

They are self-sacrificing.

Can you imagine a church with that kind of commitment and organization? What would that look like? What would the world look like? 

We would all clearly understand our marching orders (found in the Bible), we would all be connected to a Bible-believing church, and we would use our gifts and talents to accomplish our God-given mission. We would work as individual members of a cohesive unit with a singular purpose, and we would rock the world for Jesus.

The light would shatter the darkness, and the darkness would begin to recede.

A lady in our Sunday school class shared about a need that was brought to her attention. Her initial thought was, “I’ll share that with my church.” Then she realized, “I am the church!”

The church isn’t a building down the street. It isn’t a function we attend. It’s us. We are the church, and we’re here not to do church but to be the church. We can make a difference as individuals, but we can bring worldwide transformation as a community of believers.

We, like ants, manage to keep ourselves busy, but we often value busyness over mission. We focus on getting through the day instead of getting others into heaven. This is to the pleasure of the enemy of our souls.

My youngest son recently asked me what it felt like to know a new decade is but a few years away. It’s bittersweet, I said, because the time has gone far too quickly, and I realize most of my life is behind me. But I want to make the rest of my life matter – not so I can create a legacy for myself but so I can do my part, however small, to further God’s kingdom. If I’m to be remembered, let it be as a faithful worker ant – someone who didn’t give up, who was missional, who was resilient, who was self-sacrificing. Will you join the colony?

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ” – Luke 17:7-10