Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by problems that seem too big to solve? Do you have the urge to give up and quit?
When that happens, it’s time to think like an ant. It’s big medicine and it won’t cost you a dime. I don’t minimize the power of prayer, but the Lord is far too busy keeping tabs on lying, cheating and corrupt politicians in Washington to be bothered with small problems that we can solve ourselves. You’ve heard it said, and I believe it, “the Lord helps those who help themselves.”
For example, Joe Blow wakes in the morning depressed. He has no job and no income so he rolls over and goes back to sleep. He has smoked his last cigarette, drank his last beer and spent his last $2.00 on a lottery ticket. All hope is gone. He asks the Lord to let him win the lottery.
His wife is fresh out of Xanax, her nails are a mess and she hasn’t had her hair done in over a week. She is nervy as a squirrel. The kids are causing trouble at school and whining for a new pair of Nikes. The cell phone bill is overdue and the cable company has threatened to turn off service before the Saturday game. The family is overwhelmed and needs help.
It’s time to invoke the “ant-solution,” a powerful self directive therapy. I was introduced to this concept in 1967 shortly after graduating law school. My employer, Bob French in Ft. Payne, Alabama dispatched me to court to defend our client who “allegedly” robbed a bank (he certainly did) and allegedly spent the money (he did that too), but denied he committed the crime (liar). It was my first trial.
My biggest fear wasn’t that my client would be convicted, but that I would either faint or wet my pants in court, maybe both. When confronted with danger, humans and animals will fight or take flight. I went in the flight mode when the D.A. promised that he would send my client to prison for life.
“I won’t live that long,” my client whined. “You gotta save me.” Save him! I was worried about saving myself.
I returned to the office a defeated man, overwhelmed and ready to quit. “I can’t do this,” I said to Bob. “Sit down,” Bob said. “Do you know how the ant ate the elephant?”
“Noo,” I replied… “One tiny bite at a time. He cut a sliver off his tail, chewed it and swallowed.” Bob said.
“Then what?” I asked. “He sliced off another mouthful, swallowed it and kept doing so until he ate the whole elephant. Every problem in life can be reduced to the smallest part and solved before moving to the next one.”
“I never thought about it that way,” I said. “Just like eating an apple. One bite at a time.”
From that day forward when overwhelmed with adversity, I didn’t think of myself as a fancy pants lawyer wearing a pin stripe suit, silk tie and $200 shoes, but as a lowly ant chewing a slice of elephant tail. Powerful imagery!
Back to the Joe Blow. I recommend that Joe do the following after waking: First, say a simple prayer, “Lord kick my lazy carcass outta bed. Amen.”
Once up, he pulls on his pants, socks and shirt. That’s progress. The ant-solution is underway. He advised his wife to take a long walk to calm her nerves and do her own nails and hair. Then he tells his kids to pull up their pants over their crack and start looking for a part time job. McDonalds is a good place to start. And if they cause any more problems at school the Old Testament “Wrath of God” will befall them when they arrive home.
The use of fear is time tested and it works. When I was 16 years old and acting out at school, my sweet Mama asked the Lord to intervene and save me. He did. He sent his faithful servant, Principal B. L. Rich at East Limestone School to answer Mama’s prayer. While he was lighting a fire on the seat of my Levis with a board, I reached a state of enlightenment.
Problem solved. Instead of spending his money on a lottery ticket and watching T.V. all day long, Joe departs home in search of employment. He does that each day – one small bite at a time. Eventually he will see results. Remember, quantum leaps seldom occur in life. We move forward one step at a time. When you are down and out, remember how the ant ate the elephant. It’s powerful medicine. It works for me and will work for you.
By: Jerry Barksdale