Dust flew, feet pounded, hair swirled. The driveway left behind, I raced my shadow down the gravel road.
I at last slowed to a walk, talking to the Lord, pouring out frustrations, recent and old. My flip-flops made curvy prints in the dust as my walk took me farther and farther from the driveway.
Where the road made a bend, I stopped. Dropping to the ground in the shade, I shook my head. Lord, what now?
The answer came in the tops of the trees. Be still and know…
So I crossed my legs, closed my eyes, and was still.
Alaskan silence closed in around me. Birds singing, whispering wind, distant calls—it wrapped me up in one panoramic definition of beauty. I waited for God to commune with me…and heard nothing.
My eyes flashed open in time to see an ant crawling on my leg. I flicked him off, noticing with consternation that a few more had headed my way. I got up, walked back a few feet, and sat again. I’d try one more time.
I picked up a small stick and tormented an ant with it for a moment. I then broke it into four equal pieces and tossed them. As I began to realize that the Lord was communing with me through His nature, I noticed an interesting drama. I never would’ve seen it had I not moved.
In front of me in the road was an ant. I first noticed how carefully he moved forward: a few steps, then testing everything around with his antennae. Then a few more steps, and another test. He tested every rock before he stepped on it, and cautiously made his way forward. Funny, I thought. Guess I never knew ants were so careful and methodic.
I continued to watch him. He made it to a small hole in the gravel; something that would look very like a large cave in the ground to us. In this hole, a piece of my broken stick had fallen.
The ant touched the stick, felt it all over, and started to pull. I laughed inside. Yank away, little ant: you’ll never get that out of there. That’s like me trying to hassle with a 16-foot long log that about 4-5 feet around!
He tugged and pulled and yanked and tried. No budge. He let go and walked around and around.
Then he came back and tugged and pulled and yanked again. Still no budge. One more time he walked around and around, going farther away this time. Surely he’ll give it up, I thought. There’s no way…
He came back and pulled on that stick with desperation. This time, it moved. Not very far, but it moved. He’d moved its position in the hole. Now he tried more and more, each try moving the stick until he at last used the “boulders” as a tool to get the stick out of the hole.
I was fascinated. No way! How on earth…?
The little ant continued tugging. He got stuck a few times, but he kept on pulling and pushing. Sometimes he got hung up on something and his tiny legs would flail in frantic attempts to keep going. Sometimes he let go and walked around and around: I decided he was looking for a way to get the stick to move easier. Each time, he successfully moved the stick farther.
About this time, I noticed another ant—with another of those same sticks! So there I watched two tiny ants lugging these huge “logs” around, getting closer to one another all the time. So interesting. I shook my head. Who ever would’ve thought I could see such a thing out here on a gravel road?
Just then, both parties got stuck. They’d reached some sand and somehow got hung up. The first ant tried and yanked and tugged and pulled, but couldn’t seem to make any headway. The second ant tried and yanked and tugged and pulled, but he didn’t seem to make any progress either.
My attentions turned to the second ant. After all, I hadn’t been watching him as long, and he hadn’t proved himself to me yet. He hung off one end of his “log” in strong determination. He would move that log whatever it took.
I went to look for the first ant, the little guy who had already moved his “log” a colossal distance. Imagine my surprise when I saw his stick unoccupied! He’d abandoned it and moved on, apparently thinking that it was too hard for him after all.
My mouth fell open. He what? After all that work? What’s up with that!
The second ant gave another desperate struggle or two, and his “log” came unstuck. He continued on through the sand, twisting and turning his log to accommodate the terrain. He hadn’t given up.
My gaze fell upon the first stick. The stalwart little ant who had wrestled it out of a cavern and dragged it across so many “miles” had given up…and I found myself disappointed in him.
“I can’t believe you gave up.” I frowned, speaking aloud for the whole ant community to hear. “You were doing so well—and when you hit a tough spot after so many had already been conquered, you gave up. If you’d hung on a little longer…”
My sentence died out. A strange comparison flashed through my mind, as if all of Heaven had shouted aloud for me to hear.
Universes unknown—and all Heaven itself—watch me struggle through life here on Earth. They see the burdens I lift and they’re watching the push and pull for victory with all the intensity they can muster.
I guess I knew that Heaven watches everything I do. The startling thing to me was…what about the times I give up?
What if I give up? What if life proves too much? What if I throw my hands in the air and scream, “I can’t take it anymore!” and walk away? What if…?
My conclusion is that Heaven would have a very similar reaction to the one I had when I saw that any give up on his struggle. “You what? How could you? You what…!”
I rose to my feet, face turned back toward the driveway. Dust flew again, feet pounding with purpose a special rhythm: I will not give up, I will not give up, I will not give up….
God help me.