Okay, today's lesson may seem a little bit like a biology lesson, or a study into insects, but bear with me as we take this journey. Ants are social creatures - living in colonies and not out there all alone. In this respect, they are kind of like us humans - doing much better in a "colony" of sorts than trying to make it through this life all alone. I marvel at how these tiny creatures figured this out when they only have about 250,000 brain cells and we humans cannot figure this out with our greater than 10,000,000 brain cells! Deep within the colonies of ants, the worker ants spend all day moving the unborn larvae closer to the surface so they can get the heat of the day, but then faithfully move those same larvae deeper into the nest so they can be warmer. It is a repeated process until the tiny larvae hatch. Other ants will work all day gathering food for the colony - carrying weights twenty times their own body weight back to the colony to ensure the colony thrives. Still others will carry in tiny bits of leaves, providing small pieces of "barricade" material to ensure the tunnels of the nests can be protected against water in times of rain. Another group of ants work for move the chunks of soil to the surface, creating new tunnels in which food may be stored, larvae laid, and the like. There is this sense of duty to look out for the colony - to do their part to create the right environment to ensure the colony survives.
You lazy people can learn by watching an anthill. Ants don’t have leaders, but they store up food during harvest season. How long will you lie there doing nothing at all? When are you going to get up and stop sleeping? Sleep a little. Doze a little. Fold your hands and twiddle your thumbs. Suddenly, everything is gone, as though it had been taken by an armed robber. (Proverbs 6:6-11 CEV)
We often know we have a "part" to play in the bigger "picture" of life, but we are often quite confused as to what that part may be. If we were honest about this, we probably know, but we just don't fully embrace it. Most of the time, the "part" we are called to play is not outside of what we are most comfortable doing. In other words, we "fall into" our "duties" in life because of a certain comfort level, or "aptitude".
Did you know that ants have five eyes? Yet, in spite of their "capacity" for vision, they see very poorly! Two big eyes, known as compound eyes, help them see motion around them. Three smaller eyes, known as ocelli, actually help the tiny ant sense light intensity. They detect motion and "feel" or "sense" light. Five eyes - the capacity for vision - but the vast majority of ants are either using them for "motion sensors", "heat detectors", or they are totally blind!
We humans have been the capacity for "sight" in many different ways, haven't we? We can take in information, form a "picture" of it in our brains and then interpret we are looking at a red rose. We can see light, apprehend darkness, and points in between. Yet, I have to ask - is our vision any better than the ants? Do we use what we can appreciate through out "sight"? Even these tiny ants know their part to play in the colony - despite their limited vision. They use what they know and rely on it being the right thing for them to be doing. Sometimes I think we just need to use what we know to be true about our "aptitude" in life, not being so confused by all we "see"!
The ants are probably one of the oldest living creatures - making scientists think they are pretty well "adapted" for their environment. I wonder how well adapted some of us are? Do we fulfill our calling where we find ourselves today? Or are we always looking for another colony in which we may realize our "true calling" in life? If we were to be truthful with each other, we "know" our calling, but we just don't think we are in the right place to actually do what it is we are called to do, or we are too intimidated by others doing the same task! We need to be about the work we are created to do - not always looking for another place to do it!
Ants have two stomachs - one for the food they will ingest for themselves, and one for the feeding of other ants. They even have a smaller pocket in their mouth where they can store additional food for other ants. If we stop for a moment to consider this phenomena, we might just see how it can apply to how we fulfill our mission in our "colony" of sorts. The food stored in the tiny pocket in the mouth is immediately available to provide for the one who is hungry and in need of nourishment to keep going. The food in the second stomach is there to bring out at a later time. Kind of like when we store up truths we are taught, keeping God's Word at the ready in times of immediate need and then having it hidden deeper within, to be called upon whenever and wherever it is needed!
Consider the ants and you might find a lesson or two you can take to heart. One more before I go today - the worker ant and the trail he leaves for those who will come behind. The worker ant sets out in search of food - leaving a trail of scent others may follow. If he finds a good source for their food, he follows the trail back to the colony and sets other worker ants on the course of following the same trail back to the food source. This becomes the "highway" by which they will travel over and over again, until all the colony benefits from the discovery of one ant's hard work. I think our "colonies" may be made the richer if we were to lead others to the "food" of our hard study and lessons learned. What do you think? Just askin!