When we first moved to Paraguay we lived out in the country. They didn’t pump in the sunshine out there. It came into the town near us and they loaded it onto oxcarts for delivery. It was a huge awakening for this pack of gringos. It seemed every day had some new thing we needed to learn.
We found our first tarantula there. We saw parrots in the wild for the first time there. We found out what 300 degrees and no air conditioning under an exposed tin roof felt like there. It was a crash course in missionary.
One winter night after dark we were milling about the house. I walked by the kitchen counter and saw a couple of big black ants racing around. No matter. I smashed them and went on my way. A few minutes later I looked down and saw several more of the invaders on the floor. I employed the same M.O. and sat down to read a little.
While I’m sitting there I felt something crawling up my arm. Yep, an ant. We had lived there long enough to know that this was nothing rare so I kept reading. I glanced over and saw several more ants on the counter. Hmm. As I walked over to check it out I felt something fall onto my head. Ant. Then one fell on my arm. Weird. I was looking up at the roof when Camille came out of her room and said there was an ant in her bed.
This little house had a low roof covered by corrugated tin with no ceiling inside. Where the metal overlapped was a little gappy. It wasn’t uncommon for a strong wind to blow whatever was on the roof into the house. I figured the ants climbed one of the trees and were being blown into the house.
Out of curiosity I checked the other rooms and found it raining ants. Clearly this called for a trip outside. I grabbed the flashlight and opened the door.
OH. EM. GEE.
The entire yard was a swirling, pulsing mass of black. The front porch looked like black astroturf on a water bed. The house was covered. This was the scene out of all those apocalyptic movies about the end times you watched in youth group.
I closed the door and said a quick prayer to ask Jesus into my heart. You can’t be too safe. It did look like armageddon out there.
I grabbed a sweat shirt, jeans and a poison sprayer and went to battle. I wanted to spray the walls and a perimeter around the house. There were just too many to combat head on. Christie followed along behind me on top of a pic-nic bench sweeping my body with a broom as the cursed little mongrels tried to seize me. I made it back inside and shed my armor to find dozens of ants inside my clothes.
My legs and chest looked like I had the measles. I didn’t thwart my enemy but I did slow the onslaught of the house. We may live through the night. Tell my momma I love her.
The ants continued their trek for about an hour. Millions of them.
The next day there was nothing. Gone, every last one of them. We told our neighbors about it and they said,”Oh, that happens all the time. Your house must be in their path.”
It turns out they trade mounds sometimes. All of them at once. They travel straight from one to the other, crossing whatever or whoever happens to be there. So it wasn’t the end of the world.
It was like getting punk’d by National Geographic.
I thought about it and realized we were the invaders. The ants were there way before we were, before the house was. They weren’t aggressive. They had a goal–to move. We just got in their way.
It made me think a couple of things:
- How many times has God been in the middle of doing something and I got in the way? Maybe He wants to use me to accomplish this task but I can’t or won’t understand Him.
- What would my Christian walk look like if I had the kind of focus exhibited by the ants? What if I set the goal as Jesus and then just went headlong into it like they did?