Buried deep into the forest of the Highland State Recreation area is one of the most remarkable cities I’ve ever seen. A half-hour down the trail my eyes caught site of an ant mount nearly 8 feet in diameter and 3 feet tall. This is the home to nearly 2 million Allegany mound ants. I didn’t stop to count them. I’m relying on estimates provided by people who have and lived to write about it. These ants are known to be very aggressive biters should you happen to plunge your bare arm into their mound or mistakenly lay out your beach towel for a repose on their hill. I don’t recommend it.
Mound ants are carnivores making their meal of other insects. They scour the trees and the forest floor for anything that crawls too slowly to escape them. They farm aphids—a species of sap-sucking insects—for sugar. They are industrious loggers clearing all vegetation within 50 feet of the mound including oaks, hickories and maples. They accomplish this by repeatedly biting the tree and injecting formic acid into the bite. As this is done a thousand times a day for weeks, even a mighty oak can be felled.
So the ant has much to teach us about patiently doing the right thing day after day to move a mountain. Most of us would love to see a miracle happen in our lives—some mighty mountain moved. But what if the miracle happened through the patient and faithful discipline of prayer or listening to others? Is there a small change you could make in your life and habits that if applied over time might bring down an oak? You can learn a lot from an ant! It could be the miracle you seek begins with one small change in you.
The mound ant is remarkable for its teamwork. They have no ruler, no taskmaster to drive them on. True, there is a queen but her function is not to give orders but to lay eggs. Out of the chaos of two million individuals running to and fro comes astonishing achievements in forestry, hunting, ranching and architecture. The mound they build captures sunlight to warm and incubate their eggs. How does all this happen? Each ant is programed by its Creator to serve others. The instinct to serve is so strong in the ant, no other government is necessary.
The quickest way to degrade a church or a family or any organization is for the members to serve themselves and their own interests. And the fastest way to build a marriage, a family or a church is to turn yourself inside out and start focusing on that great scriptural commandment, “serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13) You can learn a lot from an ant! Is there a relationship in your life that could be transformed by a renewed commitment to service on your part? What would happen if you just turned yourself inside out?
I want you all to know that I now have two offices. One is in the church and you can find me there Tuesday through Friday from 8 AM to 12 PM. Feel free to drop by for a visit! I’d love to get to know you and your faith. The other is in the hickories and oaks that carpet those 6000 acres of hills where Livingston Road turns to dirt. I’ll be in there on Mondays but if you see me please speak softly because I’ll be taking instruction from the ants.
In Hope and Confidence,
Pastor Tom Anderson
Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.