“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” Proverbs 14:8 (NIV)
I stood at the dirt mound watching ants. They were busy. I was not.
I was just a little girl stuck in the middle of a slow afternoon. Several of my friends had been invited to the community pool. Another friend was at camp for the week. Even my last resort, the pigtailed aggravation that lived in the apartment below, was busy. “She’s napping,” her mom had informed me.
I walked away thinking, She’s 6 years old. Only two years younger than me, and she still takes naps? That’s the awfullest thing a mom could do to her child. And this is the awfullest afternoon ever.
I sat on the swing of the playground behind our apartment complex. I scuffed the toes of my red sneakers, making lines in the dirt as I moved slowly back and forth. If a child could have died from boredom, I felt quite terminal at that moment.
Then I spotted the anthill.
I walked over and stood there. Just about the time I was thinking about how lucky all those ants were to have so many friends, I heard a scratchy little voice call out to me.
“I bet you won’t stick your foot through that anthill.” Pigtail girl had woken up from her afternoon slumber. And for heaven’s sake I would not, could not, be shamed by a girl who still took naps.
I knew in my mind I shouldn’t kick the anthill. I knew in my heart I shouldn’t kick the anthill. And I knew deep down in my soul I shouldn’t kick the anthill. Every part of me knew I should walk away from the anthill.
But some silly part of my mouth betrayed me.
“Yes I will!” I declared as I kicked my foot into the middle of ant Hades.
It didn’t take long to feel as if someone had lit 1,000 needles on fire and stabbed me mercilessly.
Since that day, I haven’t kicked an anthill. At least not in the literal sense.
But I have gotten myself into situations where I invited trouble into my life that just didn’t need to be there. Especially in the area of saying yes to something I absolutely should say no to.
I will know in my mind I should say no. I will know in my heart I should say no. I will know deep down in my soul I should say no.
But then my mouth will betray me, “Yes, of course I will do that.”
The sting of the three D’s comes …
Dread — As I write yet another thing on my schedule, I feel the weight of overload.
Disappointment — In order to make this happen, I will disappoint someone.
Drama — Dread and disappointment will ratchet my emotions to a tipping point. A tipping point that’s not healthy for me or those with whom I do life.
Here’s what I’m trying to preach to myself: Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should do it.
I kicked the anthill that day for three reasons … I thought it proved I was something. I thought it would impress nap girl. And I didn’t think through the cost beforehand.
Proverbs 14:8a says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways …” As a little girl on the playground, I was neither wise nor prudent. Thankfully I know now that God’s wisdom is readily available.
I’ve learned if I pause before making an impulsive choice and ask God what to do, He will answer. In fact, He’s given me some questions to ask myself that help me determine whether something is an assignment from Him or an anthill that will get me into trouble.
Before saying yes to one more thing on my schedule, I ask myself:
Am I trying to prove something?
Am I trying to impress someone?
Have I thought through the cost of saying yes?
It’s not bad to say yes to opportunities. But we really should give thought to our ways and consider whether this is an assignment or an anthill.
Take the assignment if it’s yours. But don’t kick the anthills.
Dear Lord, I’m asking for Your guidance as I discern assignments from anthills. Thank You for Your direction. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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