Have you ever noticed that just as the trials and tribulations of one season are behind us, fresh ones belonging to the new season suddenly appear?! Here in
Well, those blasted ants reminded me today of something that happened to me when I had known my now-husband Jeremy for a few months and we were co-leading a team of young people on a two-month trip to South Africa and Namibia. Next to a vlei, in the heady balm of a summer evening in the
As I watched, this ‘ant’s tale’ became a parable, a lesson, and a promise for me. I received it as a promise that, yes, there would be struggle and hard work, but that this did not mean the task would ever need to be abandoned. I saw it almost as a preview of what Jeremy and I would experience if we chose to spend our lives together: that sometimes it would feel as if one of us was abandoned and struggling on alone; that at others the task would seem impossible; but that we would in fact never be deserted or alone, and so the task was achievable. And I took it, too, both as a promise that the help we needed would always be there at just the right time, and also as a lesson to look for, expect, and ask for that help – from God and from others. Of course, to give a balanced perspective on marriage – and to better reflect what has been my experience – it would have been nice if those ants had frolicked blithely in a grassy meadow for a while; or casually tossed the object they were carrying back and forth to each other like a beach ball; or put it down and used it as a table to chat and eat around with their beloved, tiny ant-children! But ants only do those things when they’re not being watched, so I suppose this was exactly the experience I needed at the time to give me the courage to take the plunge into the unknown. It also became for me a picture that has helped me to re-envision myself, Jeremy, marriage, and the role of others in our lives, in a way that has been extremely valuable over the years. The famous proverb tells us sluggards (there’s that darned sloth again!) to go to the ant and consider her ways – her diligence and foresight, perseverance and discipline – and be wise. Because in every significant relationship or endeavour there are seasons of hard work, and then seasons to enjoy the fruit of our labour; there are winter seasons and there are summer ones. Though, even in the summer seasons, you just can’t avoid those flaming ants!