Monday, January 23, 2012

The Feather and the Ant

I sat in the village yesterday on a worn woven mat beneath two looming trees that offered shade from the hot summer sun. Women sat beside me, feeding their babies and holding squirming toddlers while we worshiped and prayed together. As Scott began teaching, I noticed a mass of tiny red ants next to the mat. They were swarming around a hole, no more than a quarter of an inch in diameter, carrying a white feather.

I was intrigued by what they were trying to do, and it didn’t take long to realize that they were attempting to drag the three-inch long feather, far bigger than the hole and certainly bigger than the tiny ants, into the hole. They pushed and prodded, working together in typical ant fashion, until finally, after twenty minutes or so, what seemed to have been impossible, happened. The last of the feather disappeared into the hole along with the swarm of ants.

Working together, they had accomplished the impossible.

Just a few minutes earlier, before worship began, Scott, David and I had walked across the village’s sandy soil to Julia’s compound to check on her and her newborn twins. We had brought her a box of food, a large can of formula, and three more bottles. I asked David to share with the church that this gift wasn’t just from us. I wanted Julia and the church to know that these gifts of food—along with the many prayers being lifted up for her family—were coming from people from all over the world, including the small church in Inhambane who are giving out of their own contribution. I wanted them to see that God calls us to work together as a Christians to help those in need. It is a love for Christ that compels individuals in Brazil, the US, and South Africa and here in Mozambique, to give financially as well as to pray for a mother they’ve never met, and to pray for her newborn twins they’ve only seen in photos.

Just like the ants and the feather, dozens of individuals have rallied together behind this family, to do for Julia what would have been impossible on her own.

Recently, I started reading the amazing true story about Katie Davis, who at twenty-one has given her life to care for the poorest of the poor in Uganda. I was deeply moved by some of the words in the introduction, which reminded me once again of the importance of every person, every life.

Her co-author, Beth Clark wrote: I’ve notice something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold to the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations and yes, the world. (From Kisses from Katie)

Sometimes I see the task around me as overwhelming. And honestly, sometimes I ask myself if it’s all really worth it. I see so many hurting people—homeless, jobless, physically hungry, and spiritually empty that I don’t think we’ll ever make a dent. And the problems aren’t just limited to third-world countries. Yesterday, I talked with a friend from back home who had started reaching out to a group of women in her community who were broken and hurting. She felt small for the task, but what seems impossible is suddenly possible when we let God move in us. When we let Him use us for his purpose. When we work together like the swam of ants, praying, giving, encouraging, we can change the world one person at a time. For me, it was powerful reminder that every very life does matter, and that with God all things are possible.

Be a blessing today,



  1. Thank you for this post, Lisa. This is something that's coming up to my repeatedly these days--this whole thing of team work among believers and in life in general, as well as reaching individuals. I'll probably be sharing this post tonight at Bible study. We're studying Acts 3-5. =] So full of team work.

    Thank you!

  2. Same with me, Patty. I definitely see God reminding me (over and over) of the importance of working together and that through Him what seems impossible simply put is possible. Be blessed.

  3. Thank you so much for the reminder, not only of teamwork, but of taking care of little things for one person at a time. That it will add up to a big picture that we can't see because it is too big for us. Where as that big picture is the one God sees and knows how much those little helps add up & multiply to get that big picture.

  4. Well said, Anita. Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Jess Knowlden9:50 PM

    What an awesome illustration of what can happen with teamwork! Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Thanks for stopping by, Jess. A great reminder for me as well!