On the opening night of a bible study on the Book of Job, the class leader told the story of his relationship with an ant colony. Every day, he parks in the same parking spot at work. Over the years he did not notice anything unusual about his parking space. Until a day when he was later than usual. As he pulled into his spot he noticed ants swarming the space. The swarming ants surprised and mystified him, but after reflection he realized what happened.
His daily routine changed earlier in the year. Instead of indulging one of his minor vices, a morning sugary cola, at a morning meeting he was now drinking it on the way to work. When he reached his parking spot, he poured any remaining soda under the car.
The ants were drawn to the sugary residue. Not only were they drawn to it, they started to depend on it. They show up shortly after he pours the soda into the parking space. Now, if the class leader is late, they are there waiting for him. The ants are now dependent on this human for their breakfast.
The teacher wrapped up his story with a few jokes about his conflicted state concerning the ants. If they had been in his home, it would have been bug spray time. In this situation, he felt somewhat responsible for them. He then looked around the group and said, “So, what does this have to do with the Book of Job?”
Had the class been held at the time of Job, the answer would have been clear. Believers in the time of Job seemed to understand that compared to God humans are ants. Believers understood they were dependent upon God, and everything they had, including their lives, were under His control. There is one difference between the ants in the story and mankind. The ants are not completely dependent on a human for the life they lead.
People do not like hearing they are dependent on God. They probably did not like it in biblical times, and they certainly do not like hearing it today. Still, if the bible is to be believed, that is exactly the case. The story of Job makes that clear.
Job had great wealth and success. Yet, he gave all glory and thanks to God for his success and possessions. He acknowledged that he would have nothing without God. In God’s own words, Job was a righteous man. Still, God allowed all of Job’s wealth, his success, his family and even his health to be stripped from Job for reasons that are still a source of disagreement among religious scholars today.
Believers today are not much like the Job of the bible. We are much more like the ants on the parking lot. We go through our daily lives and expect God to give us what we need. However, we are different in one way. When God does not give us what we think we need, we are hurt, rebellious and distrustful.
Entire ministries today are built on the idea that God wants us to be happy and have things. If we are just good enough, if we are just faithful enough, if we just give enough, God will give us everything our little hearts’ desire.
An earlier post, “A Question of Significance,” expressed this writer’s concerns for those who feel they are significant in some way. One can only imagine how people who feel they are significant when compared to God would feel if they were told they were like an ant when compared to God.
Hearing someone say human beings are insignificant in any way is uncomfortable. It is more uncomfortable to hear someone say human beings are insignificant, and they are completely dependent on God for everything in their lives.
Many may think, okay, I am dependent on God for my salvation, but I am not truly dependent on Him for my success. I work for my success. I get up and go to my job every day to put bread on the table and achieve my success. I may thank God for what I have, but in reality, I earned it.
Feeling one is responsible for his or her success is understandable. It is what people are taught by their parents, schools and peers. A person has free will. He has skills and abilities that will dictate how much money he may make. One’s life and success are in his or her hands, not God’s.
That is how this writer felt for many years. I felt I had a truce of a sort with God. I wouldn’t mess with Him, if He didn’t mess with me. He could take care of those who needed him, and I’d take care of myself. I thought that attitude worked well for years. In truth, I was never alone. Despite my rebellion, He was there. He protected me, even when I did not want to protect myself.
Does that mean I had a life without trouble? Not exactly! I had my share of troubles, but they were insignificant when compared to others I knew and nothing compared to what Job suffered. I had troubles and I had what I thought was success. What I did not have was peace. I was always anxious, always working to be more successful or keep what I had. I was, at some level afraid.
It was only when I realized I was no more than an ant that my fear subsided. It was only when I realized I was not in control that my anxieties were relieved. When I quit trying to do it on my own, I could finally hear God. I still do not hear Him clearly. I do hear Him more clearly and more often than when I thought of myself as self-made man.
©S. E. Jackson