Tag Archives: Joel 2:25-27

Lord of the Fleas

23 Feb

I will restore to you the years
.    that the swarming locust has eaten…
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
.    and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.  —Joel 2:25, 27

About a year ago I staggered into the bathroom in the middle of the night. I lost my balance. My foot slid across the floor and up against the side of the toilet. Instead of supporting my weight, the floor gave way slightly. Even in a sleep-stupor, I knew this was not good.

This midnight episode launched a year-long project. The homeowner’s curse—“while we’re at it”—took over at every stage.

Before we could remove the toilet, there were several aspects that had to be done first. Finally, the day came. My husband loosened the bolts; we lifted the 1970’s almond-colored toilet from its foundation and set it aside. We expected to find a wet floor under it. Instead there was a neatly piled mound of sandy stuff that we swept up before ripping into the sub-floor. The plywood layers were loose and came up with little effort.  After lifting a few with a putty knife, we discovered the reason for the squishi-ness that started this project—a colony of carpenter ants exploded around our feet.

Never was a more intense dance performed! Four arms flailed in time to our frantic heel-and-toe moves.

After we sprayed ant-killer and the madness slowed enough that I could take a photo

While we were completely grossed out until the last insect was dead, the ants gave us a brand new bathroom—new toilet, tile floor, shower (“while we are at it!), vanity and sink, paint, towel racks… and all mold eradicated.

And, yes, it did cost a bundle. The ants forced the bathroom to the top position of our financial priorities for last year. Without them, this project would have stayed near the bottom for a long time. I’m actually grateful to the (long-squished and dead!) ants. I really, really like our new oasis!

Our situation made me think of Corrie ten Boom who was imprisoned with her sister during World War II for helping Jews escape the Nazis. The last time I read her biography, The Hiding Place, I was in high school. Yet I still remember Corrie’s sister Betsie thanking God for the fleas in their concentration camp barracks. Corrie was vexed by them and didn’t understand Betsie’s thankfulness (neither did I!) until she explained that they were able to have Bible study and prayer times without fear of interruption or punishment. The guards didn’t want to get fleas, so they stayed out of the building!

Fleas and ants are pests. I dislike them lots. In these two cases, though, I’m grateful for them.

I wish I could say that I always have this perspective and understand God’s greater purposes in life’s frustrations, but I don’t. More often than not, I’m still broadsided when my expectations are thwarted. I am, however, learning to breathe, to take a step back when hit with the unpleasant stuff of life.

Several years ago someone told me that maturity is shortening the distance between falling and getting back up. I would add that maturity is also lengthening the distance between an annoyance and reacting to it, in order to temper my reaction with grace.

I wouldn’t mind if I never saw another ant in my house. But I don’t want to limit God from working in my life.

He has my complete permission.  He is God; I am not.


Ready for Sunday

How many times have I been derailed from worshiping God because of a Sunday morning annoyance? Technology that doesn’t work… an off-handed comment from someone that hit me the wrong way… not feeling well… and a myriad of others.

How can I enter into the spiritual realm equipped with weapons to defeat these commonplace enemies in order to worship the LORD my God? Being vigilant against an age-old enemy requires ancient weaponry – The Word and prayer.  Against such strength no tactics will succeed.

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