Is the end of the world upon us? By the time you read this, our friends in Florida will be bracing for the largest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, with another hurricane already forming behind it. This comes on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which some called “the storm of the millennium.” In the political world, riots break out in American colleges, and North Korea seems bent on nuclear war. What in the world is going on?
These events bring to mind a uniquely Southern delight: fire ants. Visualize a young New England boy taking a vacation in Georgia and seeing curious mounds of earth dotting the lawn. Having no idea what they are, he explores the mounds with an outstretched stick. To his delight and fascination, the earth explodes with swarming ants, desperately trying to restore order to their corner of the universe. (The delight fades a few moments later when one of them finds his fingers.)
When everything is collapsing in the world, we go into fire ant mode. We panic. We swarm. We bite everything that moves, including each other. We want order restored and we’re going to panic until we get it! Of course, this is usually only happening on the inside. Outwardly, we may be calmly going to work, or homeschooling our children, or even going to church. Inside, however, we can find our spirits in wild confusion and deep uncertainty. We may not be physically running around in circles and screaming, but sometimes it is happening over and over in our hearts.
My encouragement to each of you (and myself) is to resist such a temptation to fear. The Holy Spirit did not promise to live inside fire ants, so they panic. But He has promised to live inside of us, so we don’t have to. We don’t have to try to get control, we can rest in His control. Each Sabbath is a reminder to us that the universe gets along fine without our attempts to manage and direct it. God is on the throne, and we’re not. That is a peaceful truth.
I would further encourage a long look at Psalm 46 on this Sabbath. It speaks of mountains being shaken into the heart of the seas (total chaos everywhere), but somehow avoids the fire ant response. Instead of panic, there is peace. Instead of screaming, there is silence. “Therefore, will we not fear, though the earth do change.” How is the Psalmist so calm? He has heard the invitation of God to something more than terror. God speaks the same message today: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Let’s embrace stillness on this Sabbath. Not the stillness of despair, but the stillness that is quietly resting in God’s sovereignty. He is holding North Korea’s nuclear missiles in His hand. He is holding all the world’s hurricanes in His hand. And He is holding our hearts in His hand. We can doubt that and act like fire ants, or we can choose to believe it and act like trusting children of God. We can live in peace – right in the middle of the storm – and we can offer peace to unbelievers around us as they swarm about in a frenzy. Sometimes being “light” and “salt” may not look like street evangelism or revival tents. Sometimes it might just be a peaceful spirit and a quiet act of kindness.
Let’s choose to Be Still on this day. We are not ants, we are sons and daughters of the Living God, and He has all things perfectly under His loving control.