Saturday, May 28, 2011

On Ants and Status

Last week I was babysitting at a neighbor's house and to my dismay I learned that they have an ant infestation. These little creepy crawlers were all over their counters, the trash bin, the kids toys and in the little bowl of raisins I set out for lunch. The three little boys of 4, 6, and 9 were entertained by seeing me almost jump out of my skin when I spotted them. Needless to say, I quickly swiped the bowl out from under their curious and hungry hands, while they shivered with suppressed giggles. 

Bugs are most definitely unwelcome visitors in one's home. Yet, I was reminded of this incident yesterday when confronted by my face-book profile page and the blank spot where you fill in your "status". What is my status? Who am I to be in this intimidatingly huge world God has placed me in? 

"Ahh", say you. "Senioritis. I can spot it a mile away". Yes, I'll admit it. I've succumbed to the contagious disease plaguing all college students during the year before they graduate. The world looks so big, the options seemingly endless, and the future so bright that it's blinding anything past my next few steps. 

There are a few supposed cures to this condition. One of the most tempting is to sit in your dorm room or home, and analyze every situation that has happened in the past that could affect your future, and weigh the good against the bad. Another is to sit in the same place, and imagine what the future could possibly hold. All scenarios are up for consideration, from every disheartening disaster to the greatest image of grandeur.  Yet another is to compare your achievements and shortcomings with other seniors, who are in the same boat you are.

There are several things all of these attractive solutions have in common. 

1. All three give a deceiving sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, which is quick to dissolve. 
2. All three are absolutely unproductive and a waste of precious time.

Analyzing the past may bring a feeling of fulfillment, saying  "Look at what I've done. Look where I've come from!" Or, on the other hand it might feel like honesty by facing up to reality when saying "Look at what you've done- pshaw, look at what they've done over there! There's no way you will ever be like them. How come their grass is greener than mine? Why can that nine year old play the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody #4 at sight when it took me over a year to learn it?" Both attitudes are filled with the gangrene of pride and envy, which soon eats at one's soul till you don't think you can bear any more. The deceiving veneer of satisfaction soon disappears to reveal inner insecurities, as raw and hurting as an open wound. 

All these attitudes generate is the pouring of salt into that very wound, and every such train of thought rubs it in deeper and deeper. I've seen and experienced it so many times that I've grown to recognize the symptoms. 

But, I've recently received an injection of the true cure for senioritis. Just thought I would share it with you, even though it's a little deviation from the true nature of this blog. 

"Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well." Luke 12:27-31

He will care for me. He loves us more than we could ever know! If He cares for such flowers as much as this, how great must be His care and planning for every little thing in our lives.  Earlier in the same chapter Jesus says: "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered"(Luke 12:7).

Let me just think about that for a quick sec.

All of my hairs are numbered (wouldn't that be a cool number to know? :). What on earth does it matter how many hairs I have on my head? What difference does it make? And yet He knows. He knows the most minute details of my life. If He has provided for me, and cared for me, how can I not trust Him with the unforeseeable future?

2. Back to ants. These supposed "cures", if you haven't noticed, all take up a considerable amount of time, and self-analyzation. But Proverbs, and Judy Rogers, tell me to 

Go to the Ant!  
Oh sluggard - see how she works all day
And she doesn't even have a captain to tell her what to do, but she works hard anyway
Go to the Ant! and listen
Tell me, does she complain?
God made her, now you imitate her - Go to the Ant!
© 1989 Judy Rogers

(for any who just sung along that song with me just then, I applaud you. :)

"Consider her ways and be wise" (Proverbs 6:6). 

She works all day, searching gathering food twice her size from distances sometimes yards away (like miles to us). No one even tells her what to do! How many times has my excuse for frittering away time worrying been: "Well, I don't have any deadlines from my teachers..." or "Well,  no one expects me to do anything. So I don't need to". How can that be true? There is a whole world of tasks to be done. One has only to take the blinders of self-centeredness off, and look around to see the uncountable needs of others, let alone the job that God has put straight in front of you! 

As a student I've realized that this is an amazing time of my life. God has given me these years to study and learn more about Him and the talents and gifts he has given to man. I will probably never have this much time again to think and study again. I need to take advantage of this time to hone and further the skills I have been blessed with! It reminds me of the parable in Luke 19 when Jesus tells of a master giving out money to several servants. Most invested what was given to them, but there was one who buried the money, and nothing came of it. When the master came back to see the results, the servants who had put the money to work were rewarded.  The servant who earned nothing had what he had taken away from Him. 

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?" Luke 16:10-12

So put your nose to the grindstone, Shannon, and get to work!

Haha, just kidding.  :D

But in all seriousness, I've come to the conclusion that I need to make everything of this precious time. I will be too busy in the future having to use these gifts in a practical way. 

Perspective is absolutely necessary. Not the kind of insecure perspective that asks "How will a little person like me ever make a difference in such a huge and overwhelming world?"and "Look at how much talent God's given that person over there",  but rather the meek spirit who says "Here am I Lord, send me".  What can I do to work His purpose out? What can I do to glorify and enjoy Him here on earth, day to day? That's all I need to think about. All else is wasted time, unnecessary emotional upheaval, and an amazing amount of energy, all of which could have been spent helping others, or furthering the task God has set before me. 

Who knows what the future will bring. I'm just going to live with the present. I'm not going to try and wrestle it out of God's hands anymore, I'm just going to leave it there. He's infinitely more capable of taking care of it than I am. 

"Now all has been heard;
   here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
   for this is the duty of all mankind." 
Ecclesiastes 12:13

Listening: Cortege et Litanie by Marcel Dupre