“Considering The Ways of The Ant”
September 1, 2016
Elvin is an old order Mennonite we visit in the course of our chaplain work. This type of Mennonite is similar to the Amish in using the horse and buggy for transportation. He is in his mid-seventies but is still a diligent toolmaker. Each week he shares a report concerning their home canning and replenishment of their basement pantry through the harvest season. I took this photo of their very orderly and colorful pantry. As you can see there’s lots of half gallons of applesauce since he eats a good portion every single day.
“Considering The Ways of The Ant”
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“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8).
Late yesterday afternoon in doing my chores, which included taking our trash and recycles out by the road for pickup, I found a discarded watermelon rind. I had eaten the juicy red meat out of the melon and Brooksyne pitched the rind in the yard to be picked up later for compost bin. However when I picked it up the composting was already beginning with a team of tiny ants going about their God-ordained work, prompting a consideration of the daily Scripture text.
Myrmecology is a branch of entomology focusing on the scientific study of ants. Yes there are biologists who actually specialize in the study of ants!
Edward O. Wilson, a professor at Harvard University, is considered to be the world’s leading expert and foremost authority in myrmecology. I recall an article I read many years ago in Reader’s Digest even as I marveled that anyone would devote their lives to such a study. His 736-page book “The Ants” is the standard work on the little critter and he has since written a sequel titled “Journey to the Ants”! “The Ants” will set you back $132.46 for a new copy on a recent Amazon search so I’ll just settle for what I can learn on the internet since I am a generalist.
Ants are found virtually everywhere on earth. The total biomass of all the ants on earth is roughly equal to the total biomass of all the people on earth. Scientists estimate there are at least 1.5 million ants on the planet for every human being. Over 12,000 species of ants are known to exist, on every continent except Antarctica. Most live in tropical regions. A single acre of Amazon rainforest may house 3.5 million ants. *
King Solomon also found the ant an interesting point of observation and we find in his observation another timeless lesson from God’s Word. Solomon said “go” and “consider”. So today wherever you live, unless you are live in Antarctica, you can heed Solomon’s ancient consideration. You rarely have to “go” out of your way to see ants since, regardless of where you may live, ants also inhabit nearby.
But taking the time to “consider” the ant’s ways takes some effort. Solomon was sure good at that for we read that “he described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish” (1 Kings 4:33). Apparently he had also spent some time observing ants. Fellow Pennsylvanian Benjamin Franklin observed that “none preaches better than the ant, and she says nothing.”
Join me in considering some of the ways of the ant today:
- The ant demonstrates diligence. They are busy in the work God created for them. That seems to be the main point in our daily text. Solomon is addressing those who were slothful in their work habits, whom he very forthrightly called out, “You sluggard”. Other versions use “lazy” with one stating “lazy bum” (God’s Word Translation).
- The ant demonstrates teamwork. A.M Mackay, a pioneer missionary to Uganda, Africa tells how that one day he saw a colony of soldier ants suspend themselves by their bodies joined together. They were extending from the ground upward through the air to a piece of meat suspended from a branch of a tree, thus forming a sort of Jacob’s ladder of themselves. Upon this ladder the feebler members of the ant colony climbed, and supplied their wants!
- The ant demonstrates planning and preparation. “Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer” (Proverbs 30:25). This is the only other reference in Scripture to the ant. Now from our observation and scale (what Solomon saw) they may appear to be “of little strength” but actually,
- The ant demonstrates strength. Ants are capable of carrying objects 50 times their own body weight with their mandibles. Ants use their diminutive size to their advantage. Relative to their size, their muscles are thicker than those of larger animals or even humans. This ratio enables them to produce more force and carry larger objects. If we had muscles in the proportions of ants, we’d be able to heave a Hyundai over our heads!*
- The ant demonstrates resourcefulness. A biologist tells how he watched an ant carrying a piece of straw and came to a crack in the earth that was too wide for it to cross. The ant remained still for a time, as though pondering the situation, then put the straw across the crack and walked over upon it!
Solomon says to “consider its ways and be wise.” Have you watched any ants lately? Are not all these characteristics needed in our lives today as we seek to be wise in God’s estimation?
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, help us to be team workers who are diligent, prepared, strong, resourceful and wise in all our endeavors. Characteristics common to the ant are of great benefit to us as we follow Your daily leading in our lives. We thank You for the ability to work physically and to enjoy the reward of our labor. We’re grateful to You for supplying all that we have need of but also for the opportunity to use Your gifts wisely. Amen.
I use a steam method as the water bath (photo shown without the large dome lid that holds the steam). Ten minutes later the jars are ready for storage. My favorite part of canning is removing the dome lid and hearing pop, pop, pop – the sealing of the lids is like music to my ears!
This morning I labelled them and next they go to the storage closet. Most will be shared with friends over the next year but we’ll also enjoy several ourselves, since peach jam (or any fruit jam, for that matter) helps satisfy my sweet tooth (or should I say teeth since I think I have all my teeth get happy when I have a bite of the English Muffin shown below).
“The Ants Go Marching One By One” Video No spiritual value but a song about ants!
“Blessings” Video Laura Story (Not related to our message but a great song!)
Yesterday we visited White Oak Display and I took a turn at helping out with one of the projects they were working on, gluing flooring samples to a board for a display in stores like Lowes and Home Depot. We appreciate seeing people work conscientiously and diligently no matter what type of work. Tim, the supervisor, told me I did OK.
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