On the sixth day after the exterminator came, I walked in the door after work, as usual. And as usual I asked the question I’d asked on every return home from work for at least a month.
“See any ants today, Hon?”
Starting in late winter, as I mentioned here last week, the ants came marching two by two. Into our house. We tried ant traps and every other ant dispensing tool we could find at the local hardware store, but they kept coming. Into nearly every room.
They even got into my head. “I didn’t know I was so…psychologically fragile,” I told several sympathetic friends, explaining my anxiety, my sleeplessness, my panic attacks. “Ants belong OUTSIDE. Not inside. They’re stealing my peace.”
While visiting India, I had encountered cockroaches. I hated them, especially when they climbed my legs, but I didn’t lose my peace. At least, not for long. I danced around a bit, then flicked them off and forgot about them.
For some reason the ants bothered me more.
Desperate, I contacted an exterminator. A pleasant fellow named Ryan arrived the next day. “Pavement ants,” he told us, spotting one high-stepping on the counter. I squashed it. “They’re the first ones to wake up in the spring.”
He sprayed something natural (but murderous to ants) on our baseboards and anywhere else he thought may be an entry point. Then he went outside and sprayed the perimeter of the house. “That should take care of it,” he said, “But if you happen to see any more in the next week or so, give me a call.”
A scream, I thought.
For the next five days, we didn’t see a single ant. “Well,” said the Preacher, on that sixth day, “I saw one. Dead. At the bottom of the dog’s water dish.”
I groaned, mentally preparing to send an emergency flare out to Ryan. “Come back! They’re back.” First I peered at the small black speck in the bottom of the dog’s dish. Relief almost overwhelmed me. “Hon,” I called. “It’s just a tiny bit of grass or something. NOT an ant!”
In comparison to the global and national crises that haunt our nightly newscasts, our ant trouble didn’t even place. We had a small problem; one which (thank God) seems now solved. But living with ants revealed a more insidious problem, I realize now. Not in my head. In my heart. They taught me the consequence of allowing the most vital focus in my life to deviate, even a single degree.
The Bible says God provides “perfect peace” to those who remain focused on him. But remaining peaceful in crisis requires prior preparation. Time spent with Jesus in prayer and his Word. Time I’d often neglected during COVID, while occupied, terrified, frustrated and saddened by many things. The ants simply served as the proverbial canary in the mine.
I thank God for our ant problem. It has reminded me to better heed my spiritual GPS – God’s Positioning System. But no, they’re not welcome back.