Thursday, May 30, 2024

Children and Ants

I never know where my inspiration will come from for my  devotionals, but somehow they always 'pop up' somewhere!!  

This devotion was triggered by 'sunshine and kids'.  

We live in a complex on Thom Mountain.  It is very quiet, most of the time. Until summer.  There is a complex next to ours that we cannot see - it is separated by trees and a berm and some swampy area but when people are outside on their decks or backyards the sounds travel very clearly. Doesn't help that our house is the closest to our neighboring complex.. 
I was sitting outside for the first time this year enjoying the warmer weather and the sound of children playing in the neighboring complex  was loud enough to be 'intrusive' - if I had had a bad attitude about it.  But I didn't and I don't.  First, I quite enjoy the sound of happy children playing and the second reason is that I remind myself of how much better it is to hear children playing than the sound of sirens, bombs or  gunshots and violence. Right?? 
So... as I listened to the children I realized something.  Children cannot play without laughing. Everything is laugh-worthy to them, or at least it seems every happy thought or action immediately triggers a response of laughter!  

Jesus said that "unless we become as children we will not see the kingdom of God."  Matthew 18:3,4 That is pretty serious !  So I want to invite you to focus for a few minutes on what it means to be a child.  I know we all know the difference between childish and childlike.  It is the childlike that God wants us to emulate.  
It is when a child feels loved and safe that we see a 'happy' child , free to live in the blessings of childhood.   I love the below image.  

Doesn't the image melt your heart?  How safe do you think that child feels?  God says He holds us in His Hand. -John 10:28

As I listened to the neighborhood children's'  laughter resounding again and again, I had to smile . Children find it so easy to live in the moment, enjoy whatever is before them, and laugh with delight.. 
Scripture tells us that God says, "Rejoice and again I say rejoice!?"  Philippians 4:4 
And we all know the scripture "laughter doeth good as a medicine!" Prov. 17:22 Have you taken your 'medicine' today??
There is another reason, I think that children laugh so much more than we as adults do.  It has been said that nothing bonds two people quicker than when they laugh together!  So doesn't it make sense that children who want to be accepted, want to belong, to feel loved would still be using the 'bonding'  instinct that God gave us?  Too bad we as adults too often  forget how to use it  

There are so many child-like characteristics we could point out but I want to focus on just one more.  Curiosity.  I was born with a double dose, that was not limited to my childhood!  
An example -- 

I had occasion to indulge my curiosity recently.  I had a problem with pavement ants in my kitchen.  They found a pathway  from under one of my counter electrical outlets.  I really hate killing anything but I cannot allow ants to roam free in my kitchen !!!  
I did what I had to do, mix peanut butter with Borax and lay my 'offering' below the plug-in outlet. That is 'poison' to them but they only see the peanut butter and take it back to their nest - eventually killing the entire nest. 
I spent some 'quality' time observing them.  Obeying scripture --  Proverbs 6:6 tells us to "go to the ant, consider her ways, and be wise!"  

I was curious -- watching these tiny , tiny creatures..  And I did learn some things. 
They were not aware they were being deceived. That the food was not what they thought it was !  And I thought about how much the enemy wants to deceive us -- we need to be on guard,  watching for 'truth' that is mixed with a little error !!  It is enough to 'kill us'. 

They worked so hard, I never saw them rest, just back and forth carrying the 'food' back to their nest. As I watched them I felt sad for them that all their hard work would end in their death. I thought of how many people rush here and there , working so hard to reach their goals in this life, but if their work is in the flesh, it will end in death.  

I also noticed how they worked together. They  had to go single file up their grout path to the outlet but they stepped out of each other's way and focused on helping one another meet their 'common goal'.  

I felt so bad that I had to cause their death, but there was no alternative!  I could not have them in my kitchen !!  And I understood better why God cannot allow 'sin' to enter heaven.  Why, even though He does not take pleasure in even the death of the wicked, He cannot overrule man's free choice to choose 'evil' instead of 'righteousness' .And there is no way 'sin' can be allowed in God's holy presence. .  I looked at my little ants and thought, "you silly little creatures, why didn't you stay outside?  You could have lived !!"

There was something rather astounding that I noted and I share this risking the probability that you will think I  have gone 'buggy' . (that's okay!! smile) 
My sister told me that these tiny creatures will carry away any dead ants in their area.  So, even though I felt some guilt, my curiosity was stronger, and I killed one of the little ants and let it lie a few inches from the peanut butter mix. 
I watched ...  and it wasn't long before I saw two ants run toward the dead ant ,then making a very sudden stop about one inch from the dead ant.   One of these ants literally shuddered, turned around and ran back to the peanut butter.  
 The other ant did something amazing. 
it didn't run away, but rather stood up on its hind legs stretching up to its full tiny height.  It stood there for a long while.   What it looked like to me was that it was standing before the dead ant, honoring it, paying its last respects.  It was so moving, I could not believe that this tiny creature had the ability to 'think' and 'feel' .  Was it possible?  Was this dead ant related to him?  I have no idea , of course.   But then I had to walk away for a minute and when I came back the dead ant was gone.  
What struck me was how the ants showed respect for the dead body of a fellow ant.  Is that what God is showing us through these tiny ants?   That even though our bodies will die and decay and are made of nothing but 'dust' , because our physical bodies are what house our souls and spirits they have 'worth' and God-given honor even after death? 
We of course have a hope and promise the ants do not have.  Our bodies though they will die and decay will be raised up  in perfection when Jesus comes back. 

And so, I feel a little  'wiser',  because I observed the children and the ants, and I hope it was at least interesting enough for you to think about !  

Conclusion -  Let us remind ourselves of what we see in our little ones that delights us,  and know that God looks for those same characteristics in us, HIS children.