The Sting of the Fire Ant

IMG_0987Some places God just doesn’t want me to go. Some things God just doesn’t want me to do.

Some. Things. Just. Aren’t. Good. For. Me.

Period.

Sigh.

I haven’t always listened to God. I wish I had. I wish I did. But, I don’t. Sometimes I just want to do things my way. My curiosity gets the best of me. Temptation knocks. I cave. I give in. I wish I didn’t.

Like the other day.

I stomped a fire ant mound. Oh, I’ve heard a few things about fire ants, but I didn’t take heed. I didn’t run. I didn’t turn away. Oh, no. Not me. Not this woman. No, I thought I could divide and conquer with my own two feet. Just bring the foot down and crush the enemy!

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Let me just say, some enemies need more than a foot stomping. I have never seen so many ants in my life. Thousands upon thousands swarming out of that clay-constructed fortress. Attaching themselves like glue to my two-inch-platform, open-toe sandal. Never was I so grateful for two inches of space between ground and foot. Picture me on the side of the road jumping up and down, shaking my leg, stomping my foot, removing my sandal and pounding it on the ground to rid it of the threat to my body and health. Never was I so grateful for the grace of God. I only got stung three times. Three times too many. Today I’m paying the price…itching, burning, my skin has a pulse. A painful reminder that I should have listened to what I’ve heard about fire ants. Take heed.

God gives me warnings. He’s gracious like that. He wants what’s best for me. A loving Father who cares so much for me that He tells me to take heed.

“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.” Proverbs 13:1

I honestly, truthfully, and painfully admit…I am not always very wise. I attacked a fire ant hill. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to rid the earth of  dangerous pests, but there are much safer ways I could have done it. I could have planned. I could have worn proper clothing, used another means, and prepared a more strategic attack. When messing with the enemy I need to heed God’s advice. I need to seek His counsel. I need to remember that when I’m unprepared I could very well be setting myself up for failure.

Who wants to fail? It hurts. It stings. It can leave some nasty scars.

Believe me, every time I want to scratch off the top layer of my epidermis where those ants left their mark, I remember I should have listened to what I’ve heard about fire ants. I won’t be stomping any more ant hills with a two-inch platform sandal, leaving my skin exposed and my pride unchecked. The ants may have won this battle, but I left my shoe print on their mound. Next time, I’ll be attacking with a potent concoction of vinegar and baking soda.

See, I’m wiser now. Those ant stings left their imprint, too, and I don’t want a repeat. Once is enough for me.

“A fool spurned his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.” Proverbs 15:5

I wish I was always so teachable. I wish I was always so quick to learn a lesson. I wish I was always so easily molded and refined. Some lessons I’ve had to learn over and over again in the school of life, but one thing I know…God never gives up on me. It scares me to think of what I would be like without Jesus. It scares me to think of where I’d be or what I’d be doing.

It scares me to think because I know there are many times when I do listen to God. Like when His Word washes such a holy truth over me it’s like a hammer and the stubborn rock of my will is broken into tiny little pieces, “Is not My Word like fire”–the Lord’s declaration–“and like a sledgehammer that pulverizes rock?” Jeremiah 23:29  Or when His Word pierces my soul and spirit in such a way as to change my hardened heart, “For the Word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

The enemy may leave a few marks on me from time to time, but God leaves an imprint that’s far greater, far more powerful, far above the intentions of the enemy to leave me helpless, hopeless, or hapless. I’m definitely wiser now than I was ten years ago, ten months ago, ten days ago…three days ago?!? Amen to that!

Yeah. So, I’ve heard about the fire ants. But, now I’ve seen them for myself! And I’m not ignorant any longer to what they can do. They aren’t good for me. Period. I’m wiser now.

I’ve also heard about my God. But, I’ve seen Him for myself!! He is so-o-o-o good for me. And I’m not ignorant to what He can do. He’s proved Himself over and over again in my life. Even when I’ve not listened to Him. Even when I’ve done things my own way. Even when curiosity has gotten the best of me. Even when I’ve caved. Even when I’ve had to suffer the consequences of my actions. He has been ever gracious. Ever merciful. Ever the loving Father.

I will not forget the sting of the fire ant. But!! I will not forget the mercies of my God, either. I don’t want to forget that He has an abundance of wisdom, an abundance of grace, an abundance of pulverizing, penetrating truth to slay the sting of any enemy, any time, anywhere. From now on, when I want to do some foot-stomping in enemy territory, I will do it God’s way. You can take that to the ants and pour it down their stinkin’ clay-constructed fortress.

So there.

“Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, O Lord.” Habakkuk 3:2