Springtime is in full swing in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Spring brings many pleasant things, like warm temperatures, flowering trees and rainbows. The saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers,” yet this also brings an abundance of weeds and (ugh!) sugar ants. Years of experience have taught me to accept both the pleasant and the unpleasant from the Lord because there is something for me in both.
Paying attention to the patterns of an ant colony does have a reward. Ants are not random pests, but march toward a goal with a plan. They are tenacious in their pursuit of more! Not dangerous to humans, every ounce of their energy is spent seeking safety and satiety. When the spring rains are heavy, that secure, sweet spot target becomes the inside of my home.
How can I blame them? I too have a headstrong sweet tooth and prefer to be warm and dry. However, what is noteworthy about the actions of these tiny creatures is their persistence in pursuance of their goal. They don’t give up!
Ants work for the Queendom. An entire lifespan is set, whatever the particular job, for the betterment of the colony and its Queen. They are unified in that one goal.
It’s not coincidental that I have been fighting against this annual coup attempt at the same time the Holy Spirit highlighted Proverbs 16:3.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been marching through the book of Proverbs a chapter at a time. The vast wisdom in this book is offered in small steps that are easy to miss if not reading with intention. I tripped when I saw the order of this particular Proverb.
“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” -Proverbs 16:3 NLT
My ah-ha moment was the illumination that I commit my plans to the Lord rather than my actions. I’d been giving Him my ideas and goals with the expectation that He would bless them. By blessing them, I mean make the path easy…like following behind someone who had already scouted the terrain or moved the blockades.
Hey God, I have this great idea….
My backwards thinking contributed to the assumption that God wasn’t blessing my plans because they were not easy to achieve. Subsequently, I’d give up, defeated.
A good example of this was evident in my prayer life. “God, I’d like this specific outcome.” When that outcome did not occur, I’d assume He wasn’t blessing, or answering, or even loving…
What a horrible downward spiral of thoughts!
Isn’t giving up the opposite of commitment? This scripture says commit. That’s an obligation or a pledge of oneself to…what?
To the plan? No.
Commit your action.
Meanwhile, those sugar ants have been persistently working working working. A scout or two has become a chain of hundreds or thousands following the paths of the trailblazers. They are focused on their actions. It’s not that the scouts don’t have a plan, but their plan is not determined by them. The work is. If one route is a dead end, they backtrack and begin again. The goal is so important that the work is worth it. The colony and the queen are so valuable, the workers are committed unto death.
The consequence of perseverance is achieving the goal.
James 1:4 states it this way, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.”
Plans to further my “Sharon-dom” is not something that others generally get behind. The plan serves me, but does not serve others, nor does it serve God’s higher plan.
The long line of sugar ants is proof of their willingness to “get behind” in serving. In doing so, their strength increases and territory is gained. They work in unity for the good of all.
The wisdom of Proverbs 16:3 is in believing God’s plan is the best plan for me. It’s a belief that He is for me, not against me (Romans 8:31). It’s in believing that the prize in His plan is worth the commitment of my daily action. Not just for my sake, but for the sake of my colony…my country…my planet…God’s kingdom.
Committing my deeds, my behavior, my tactics to the Lord is a surrender. It says, “I recognize You as greater than I.” If I am stepping in line with God’s plan, His word guarantees my success.
How is this done? Each day brings opportunities to use my skills.
I begin each day in my morning “huddle” with God, a time of prayer, scripture reading and journaling. I listen for His instruction to me. Sometimes He places it on my heart to call someone. Sometimes He directs me to dig deeper in the Bible’s text. Sometimes we just take a moment to enjoy each-others company.
Listening is paramount.
It is not uncommon that the completion of the morning’s instruction opens up even more doors. Taking the first step leads to a second. A phone call might lead to lending a helping hand. In depth study may spur inspiration to write. Private moments with the Lord give space to airing my grievances or praises which, in turn, gives me energy for the mundane tasks of daily life.
My participation in a church body is a great way to unify with God’s people to increase the success rate of my actions. Remember the vast numbers of ants? One ant cannot accomplish much, but together they are hard to beat.
Who knew that the ant trail on this rainy day would lead to peace?
I hope you’ll follow me in it, comrade!
Father, thy kingdom come!