Thursday, May 7, 2015

I am writing this morning from my back porch. Been out here all morning. Will most probably be out here all day, Lord willing. You see, I was sort-of robbed of back porch time last summer, so I plan to practically live out here as much as possible. It's not a fancy porch, by any means. But it's comfy and calm and it's one of the main places that I can connect, I mean really connect, with God. How could I not? I am surrounded by layer after layer of birdsong- from the cackle of the neighbor's chickens to the finches on the feeder to the cooing of the doves near the porch rail. And so many others who are unseen but heard just as much. The breeze that nudges the wind chimes into pipe organ-like praise. I can just feel my blood pressure numbers sink lower and lower as I relax and wait on Him to speak. 

But there is a silent attack about to take place. I truly have no time to be still, for I should be up preparing and waging war. For a small but terrifying and irritating enemy approaches and, in fact, has already arrived. Want to strike anxiety in even the calmest and coolest and cleanest homeowner? Say one word:

Ants. 

It's that time of year. Or is it always that time of year? These tiny little creatures are on a mission at my house. And the saying is true for them as well as for mice: where you see one, you will most likely see more. They are relentless. And isn't it amazing how they can seek out a crumb or a smell or a spill IMMEDIATELY!? Molecule for molecule, they are powerhouses! A sense of smell and strength that is colossal, given their size. Aren't you glad they're not bigger? I mean, if they were the size of a VW, we wouldn't stand a chance! We barely do now! 


The ants in our house are weird, too. When I was a kid, the ants got into sugar. We didn't have zip-lock bags, so my mom either kept a lot of sweet things in the fridge or she used tight-sealing jars for things that ants would get into. And that was mostly sugar, cookies, or fruit. Here- these weird Chesapeake ants will travel over the Oreos and march right by the Hershey kisses to get to the Doritos. What? I have actually stood in the pantry and shouted at them. "What are you doing?" I say to these ants. "You crave salt? Crunch? Want me to take the bag into the family room and turn on the game for you? How about some nachos, Mr Ant?" I have shouted that. And other things. Because ants are annoying and insidious and destructive and distracting and they never come at any convenient time and when they do, we have to rearrange everything we are doing in order to get rid of them. 

Just like sin. 

Now I am not saying that ants are sin. God created ants. He knows why and, just like mosquitos and Kimodo dragons (my personal scariest thing on the planet) there has to be a reason. But there are a lot of lessons we can learn from the tiny ant. 

1. Ants, like sin, will find a way into your life. In Genesis the Lord told Cain that sin was "crouching at your door." (Gen 4:7b) Ants send scouts to look for weak points of entry and for food. The enemy is real and he wants into your life! The stronger you are, the harder he wants in! Do not give him entry and do not create an atmosphere that is welcoming to him. 

2. Ants are tiny, but destructive. Sin can seem "tiny," but it isn't. Sin is sin. 
(1 John 5:17) Don't be deceived into thinking that the sin you are in, no matter how small, is not harmful. You have no control over who will be affected. None. You cannot force ants to go where you want them to go; you cannot predict or control the effect of sin. 

3. Be on guard! Life is messy and sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we are targets for "ants." We drop the crumbs of foul language, evil thoughts, and unkind actions. It doesn't take long for the enemy to take hold of that and use it for his purpose: to kill and destroy. As we clean up our mess we need to spray a perimeter around us to safeguard our home and ourselves. Pray for God to protect us from evil and those who want to cause us harm. Ask God to show us the way we have sinned and to give us courage to turn away from it. 

4. Don't ignore ants. They will take over. They'll phone their friends and they will have a party on your counters and in your cabinet and on your food. They will invade the areas that you want to keep clean and free from them. 
Sound familiar? Sin will grow and grow until it permeates every aspect of your life- the very areas you need to be sin-free- which is every area- will become overtaken. (Ps 40:12)
Cry out to the Father. Ask for forgiveness. Turn from the sin. He will take your hand and your heart and walk with you on a path that He has established. A path where the ants do not win!

This porch. This place. My heart. May the ants never invade and may God Himself continue to speak here.  

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