The Ants Go Marching, II

My favorite ants went off to school last week, and the dog days of summer seem now a Polaroid faded by time. Ah it was a lovely summer! I thoroughly enjoyed its spaciousness, and I’m sad that it is over so soon. But such is the nature of rest (and vacation). It’s a lovely and needful thing, refreshing body and soul. But if we were to stay in it always, never to leave it, something beautiful and refreshing would soon deteriorate into something disfiguring and life-draining. “Too much of a good thing,” the saying goes, and it’s mostly true.

I am thoroughly caught up in the transition from rest to work. Schedule has marched us forward with the constant beat of a ticking clock. And it’s suddenly necessary to watch the clock again because something or someone important will surely be slighted otherwise. I’m not entirely in the groove yet. I’m running to catch up to the schedule like someone late for her train. When back-to-school descends upon us, it comes into the station like a bat out of hell. And I’m still not the step ahead I need to be. So this morning I rushed into my second cup of coffee, sat down at the computer, determined to knock out a new item on a swelling to-do list. I’d started the day behind; I’d hit the “snooze” button three times this morning and set off a falling-domino frenzy. It has not been the prettiest of mornings.

But as I sat down to work, my spirit was unsettled. Soundlessly, my name was being called. I’d reacted to the demands and work at hand as if my season of rest were gone forever. But it’s not gone. The taste of summer still lingers, faint though it is. And there’s Sunday, the day our family turns off electronics (kind of consistently), wakes up to daylight instead of alarms, and goes off to worship the God that transcends all this frenzy. And then there’s this quiet part of the morning I’m having right now. Even if I did hit snooze too many times, I still have this precious moment of quiet once my four little ants are safely at their desks.

How quickly I forget the graces of God, brush them away in my determination not to fall behind. In this lifetime, my work will never be done. And I need this daily moment of rest, if only for a small number of minutes, to listen to the sweet call of my name. Our God desires to meet with us, to settle our spirits and gently call us into the real work of each and every day. The emails, the phone calls, the paperwork and the laundry can wait a few more minutes so they can be transformed from the pesky nips at my heel to a kind of work that is somehow connected to the life and service of Christ. What could be oppressive can sparkle with the signs of Christ and become instead a labor of love, when we can stop and rest in Him. My friend wrote about just this thing recently, and it took me back six years to a time when I was pondering the same ideas, reading the book you see pictured above (and so you can witness personally just how quickly I forget the graces of God!).

Four little ants are at their desks now, in clothes that adhere to dress code, finished homework papers, and miraculously, a packed lunch. Their breakfasts were odd, but they will get them by ’til lunch. My work is yet ahead of me, but it holds more potential now. God has touched me and it, and I am ready to follow Him into it. It’s a much better way to do life. Perhaps the rest of summer is not gone forever. There is a rest for the people of God, the scriptures say. And I believe it can happen in small ways even now, in the busyness of this day, in the labors of my work. It is clearly a different kind of rest than summer, but it is a rest, a pause, a deep breath, a looking above rather than just in front.

This ant is marching in, but thankfully not on her own and hopefully not for herself. And I’m so grateful for a God who calls my name.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)