So yeah, I’m on holidays and loving it, just chilling out up in Perth essentially waiting around for a baby to turn up.
One thing that I did promise myself though, was that even though I might be on holidays from my role in ministry at Waratah, I decided that I would not ‘go on holidays’ from seeking God’s face each morning through my quiet time. For someone like me who takes their ‘stuff-all’ very seriously, it’s hugely tempting on holidays, to let it all hang-out to the point where literally nothing from the regular routine remains.
I’m serious, you have no idea how bone-idol I can be. I once watched every single (and I mean every single) ball of an ashes cricket test series on T.V. once….or twice.
Anyway, it’s been such a fruitful time of being able to meet with God without having to ‘run off to the office’ or anything like that. It reminds me how much we really have let our schedules become our gods in the modern age. At the same time, the biblical book I am reading through at the moment is the book of proverbs. What I have particularity noticed this time, is that it no longer feels like mere practical instruction for life but rather a metaphor of how the spiritual realm works.
This was especially the case this morning reading Proverbs 6:6-8. Which says:
Take a lesson from the ant you lazybones! Learn from their wise ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer gathering food for the winter.
Great holiday reading right?!
Now the simple and obvious moral of the story is pretty clear: if you lay around all day, and refuse to do any work then don’t expect a free ride later on. You know, ‘save for a rainy day’ kind of thing.
BUT, what if for just a second we view the seasons of nature as part of God trying to get across to us that there are seasons of the inner, spiritual life.
If that is the case, then it poses a deeper question: What if nature’s response to the fact of seasons is recorded in the word of God precisely because it teaches us how we should respond to seasons in our inner life? I think this is a legit way of thinking about it because as you can tell from his use of natural metaphors in much of his teaching, this is how Jesus thought.
So, I tried to think like Jesus for a second, and what I got out of this little nugget about ants really surprised me.
Here it is: seasons exist in the inner life, sometimes we feel like we’re walking through fields of sunflowers on a sunny day in our relationship with God. Other times it feels like a dark and stormy winter’s night. What we do with our bright sunny days often determines the severity of, and how we survive the cold winter nights of the soul.
Confession time. I admit that as I thought about this, instead of ‘pressing into God even closer’ during my ‘summer days’ with him, I have often simply taken them for granted. I then invariably wonder why the winter nights last so long. and do you know why? Ironically; grace.
God is a God of grace, he is NOT a hard task master, he does not have a whip at our backs. He leaves it completely up to us how much ‘food’ we want to store up and gather in the summer time. That is precisely why a person who really loves God back, is like the ant who in the summer stores up a harvest out of its own ‘self discipline’ rather than as so often happens in our lives, taking the seasons of plenty for granted.
Unfortunately it seems to take us more than a few cold winter nights of the soul before we apply the wisdom of the humble ant.
Here’s what I especially love though. On the other side of every command in the scriptures there is a promise. It struck me as I read this that it was no accident that God was revealing this to me, about a text I had read many time before, today. God knows that it simply wouldn’t have meant as much at a different time in my life but today it was special.
It’s almost like God sometimes says: “I see your decision to pursue me, and as a gift, I’m going to encourage you even more in that pursuit by showing you what you are really deciding to do in the spiritual realm.”
The fundamental point is I guess is that God is just so good. For before I could ever claim any credit for the choice to pursue him I would have to acknowledge that for a person as lazy as me, this ‘spend chunks of time with God whilst on holiday’ thing is (I’m ashamed to say) a relatively new development. If that’s the case, who put that choice in my heart if not God?
Maybe you’re not on holidays. Maybe in fact, you feel like you are in a winter storm? You know what? I can promise you this; the sun will shine again.
But here’s the question when, not if it does; what are you going to do with it?
Here’s my advice; be like an ant on holidays.