This morning I was out beside my little garden enjoying another beautiful summer day while reading my favourite Book when I noticed an ant briskly making his way along the wooden border of the raised bed. He was carrying a morsel I couldn’t identify—something twice as large as himself—but even so was making good time as he headed toward an ant hill I’ve seen growing near my house.
I paused from my reading and, Bible in hand, knelt down and greeted my busy neighbour with a cheery, “Good morning.”
That stopped him; he turned toward me, antennae working back and forth to determine, I suppose, whether I were friend or foe. “Good morning to you as well,” he said politely if rather warily.
(I ask my readers to keep to yourselves, please, that I was conversing with an ant; if this gets in the wrongs ears… unless you want to share it with some little child; they have no problem with these things.)
I tilted my head back for a closer look at the ant through the lower lens of my bifocals. “That’s quite the load you’re carrying,” I ventured.
It was obvious he wasn’t inclined to idle long, for he said hurriedly, “Yes, but do you feel that touch in the air this morning? The summer’s going fast. We’ve got to bring in much more yet.”
“Ah, yes,” I said. “I’ve read about you in the Bible.”
“The Bible?” he queried.
“It’s a book that tells us humans about God’s eternal purposes in man—more specifically in a Man named Jesus Christ. Actually it’s the second Bible God gave us. You—and the rest of the natural creation—are the first.”
“Really?” the ant said, laying his burden aside now. “I am a Bible?”
“Yes,” I said. “The whole creation is. In our Bible in Proverbs—those are sayings a very wise man wrote long ago—it talks of four things in the creation that are little but are exceedingly wise. It lists you first. It says—here, let me read it.” I leafed through the pages of my Bible till I found the passage in Proverbs Chapter 30.
“‘The ants are a people…’”
“I like your Bible,” he broke in cheerily. “A people. Yes. Everything we do, we do not for ourselves but for the good of all of us.”
I looked up awestruck. So little a creature with so large a thought. Let me ever be small enough to be the student of an ant.
After a moment I continued reading, “‘The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in summer.’”
His cheerful face turned suddenly solemn. “Indeed we do,” he said. “We know what’s coming.”
“Tell me,” I said, now leaning down on my elbows to get right close to him.
“You don’t know?” he asked, leaning toward me too. “There’s coming a time of great cold. And great, great desolation. We ants, we know we can’t survive that kind of thing; we’re not very strong. So we take advantage of the warm summer days to prepare for it. Look at all the food around us… now.”
I nodded. “I see that you are wise indeed. And now that I think of it, the wise man who wrote those proverbs mentioned something else about you in another place. Let me see if I can find it.” I leafed through the pages till I found the place. “Ah, here it is. Proverbs Chapter 6 verse 6. ‘Go to the ant, thou sluggard: consider her ways, and be wise: which have no guide, nor overseer, nor ruler, provideth her meat in summer, and gathereth her food in harvest.’ So you are not only wise, but industrious—and that without some boss or leader telling you what to do, which in itself is more than amazing.”
“To God be the glory,” he responded, “it seems my leader is built right into me.” And with that he gripped his load and was off again. “Good-bye,” I called with a little wave, and at that he called back, “Good-bye. Have a nice summer… what’s left of it.”
A little distance away he looked back over his shoulder. “And a nice winter too.”
I watched him hasten away till I could see him no longer. Was there a note of foreboding in his last words? Is the abundant spiritual summer we’ve enjoyed in our land for so long about run out? Am I in my weakness—and wisdom—and diligence—securing a Source of spiritual provision and strength for the desolate days ahead?
Or am I the proverbial grasshopper in the ancient fable who fiddled away the glorious summer days while the ant prepared for what was coming?