What do a mustard seed and an ant have in common besides their insignificant size? This question would never have occurred to me before this past week. I learned something about myself and something about God as a result of those two things.
Early last week I began to feel a pressing to fast. Unfortunately, I didn’t heed the pressing and as a result I was left found wanting in a situation that arose later on in the week.
I have been experiencing some physical changes recently that have left me emotionally sensitive. Like, needing to cry when I don’t have anything to cry about! If I had been obedient and obeyed the prompting of the Spirit to fast, I wouldn’t have been so affected by what happened. Obedience is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22 KJV)
So what was the situation? We experienced what I call “the attack of the ants”. Ants, those creatures that scripture uses as an example to the sluggard (Proverbs 6:6-11), are a nuisance. They’re a plague! At least that’s how Mom and I viewed them in the past few weeks. They first appeared in the kitchen and like a mighty army, they marched along the kitchen wall, along the counter and fanned out in pursuit of something sweet. Well Mom spotted them (thank God) before they could get too far and killed them on the spot! Go Mom! But, the question was, where did they come from and how were we going to keep them from continuing their midnight raids on our kitchen?
We cleared out the cupboards, searched behind the fridge, all in search of their point of entry. Apparently there is a crack between the counter and the wall – they were in the wall. That night Mom and I discussed having someone to come in and spray as well as repair the crack but Mom made a good point, if they’re in the wall and we spray, they’ll just go elsewhere and come out from another crack. So, we prayed. Right there in the kitchen, we prayed and asked God to send the ants out of our house! God has authority over every living thing in the world. (Psalm 24:1) Every force of nature, every spirit, everything in creation has to obey His command. It was the Lord who said, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NLT)
What are ants in comparison to a mountain?
The following day Mom called to have the kitchen sprayed and the man confirmed her thoughts, the ants were indeed in the wall. He said that they would find another point of entry once the spray began to take effect. As a backup measure, he also sprayed the upstairs bathroom (as that’s the only other place we’d seen any signs of the miniature beasties).
Fast forward to Friday. I’d been feeling a little under the weather Thursday and Friday so I’d stayed home from work. My hormones were out of control, I hadn’t been sleeping well and I was tired (and had been fighting the impulse to cry for two days) so as you may imagine, I was not in the best frame of mind. Remember, I neglected to fast when the Spirit prompted me (oh the stubborn hearts our Lord has to deal with!). I was sitting at my desk when out of the corner of my eye I detected movement. I looked down and two little soldier ants were parading their way across MY desk! Then I felt something on my leg – another ant! I shot up out of my chair, it flew back to hit my bed and that’s when I saw them…a line of ants ascending my bedroom wall like a group of day-time commandos! They were so bold they had the gall to attack in broad day light! If that wasn’t bad enough I saw two more on my night stand and one on MY pillow. Well that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I wept. I cried and cried and bemoaned my fate.
Really. I bemoaned my fate.
I paced back and forth, wrung my hands and wailed to the God of my salvation, “Why me!? Wh-hyyy?!” All I can say for that is, “Thank God for Jesus.”
Of course Satan, that old demon thought it the opportune time to remind me, “See, you prayed and look at the good it did you.” That slew-footed Father of lies knows just when you’re at your weakest. Again, I should have fasted. But I hadn’t and so, I cried even more.
Finally I got a hold of myself enough to spray the buggers – hah! It gave me little relief though. I called Mom and like the loving and compassionate woman she is, she came home (she was only a few units over) and helped me to move my furniture away from the walls (better to find their point of entry).
Mom shooed me out of the room (I can only imagine the struggle she must have had in keeping her composure – I was quite pitiful) and told me she would vacuum the area, just in case any of the miniature militia were secreting themselves away. They’re sneaky like that.
After a while, I calmed down and began to think. In the stillness of our down-stairs living room, I was convicted and humbled. God knew what I’d been dealing with physically. He knew that, although it may seem small in comparison to other things I’ve faced, this incident would leave me weak. He also knew the remorse I would feel after the fact. I had doubted my prayer. I had believed my eyes and rather than trusting Him, I doubted. He’d made a way of escape for me (by fasting) and I ignored it. Talk about guilt.
It’s often in the littlest trials of life that God can reveal the greatest of lessons to us. The night we’d prayed in the kitchen I had believed. We have grains of mustard seed sealed in a plastic baggy on the front of our fridge. They work as a reminder for us so that we will remember God’s words concerning the mustard seed of faith.
All of this came back to me in a flash! The Lord is an awesome God. And He is infinitely kind and merciful. He is my father so completely and I am His child (even when I act like a silly child) and He loves me. I repented and then I humbly, prayerfully headed upstairs. As I went I talked to the Lord. I said, “Lord, you said in your word, that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains. Well Jesus, that’s about as much faith as I have right now, surely it’s enough to remove stubborn ants from our home.” And you know what beloved, it was.
I entered my bedroom and the sight I saw humbled me further. My mother, my loving and beautiful mother, was standing in the corner of the room with her hands raised, her face upturned towards heaven, singing praises to God.
I stood there dumbfounded. I was amazed. I was contrite….I was chastened.
She opened her eyes and reached out her hands to place them on the walls and began to praise God for sending the ants away. Slowly, with my hands outstretched, I joined her and I began to praise God too.
The night passed into day and I found that my equilibrium had returned. I went into the bathroom and on the white landscape that was the counter-top, I saw one ant.
It was in the final stages of its death throes. I stood reverently, quietly and watched as it lay there struggling to breathe. My lips began to form into a slow grin and soon I found myself nodding, “So you’re the last one eh…”
Then I laughed out loud and squashed it flat.
We haven’t seen an ant since.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV) Believe with your heart beloved, not with your eyes. If all the faith you have is the size of a mustard seed, just remember, that’s enough.