How to Step into the Light When the Darkness Feels Safer
Many thoughts make us feel safe, empowered, and nurtured. But, though the lack of healthy boundaries feels good, thoughts that rage out of control, set our feet on a path that becomes a death march, even as the children of Israel experienced in the wilderness.
An Unexpected Invasion
Living in Florida, during certain seasons, many of us struggle with visitations from ants. It used to be sugar ants but over the last year or so, fire ants are the invaders. Not only have ant invasions increased, but now fire ants even establish their colony in walls of homes.
First I was stung, then my daughter was stung. What a shock to find it was a fire ant, which we quickly exterminated.
First, it was a single visitor. Then it was two or three a day. We quickly located their point of entrance and placed a slender boundary of cinnamon. The ants would reach the boundary, stop, act confused, retreat, then disappear.
Reinforcements would arrive and begin to work within the boundary. With diligent research, they found they could get around the boundary if they just entered from a different spot.
We awoke to the beginning of the invasion in our kitchen. Researching, we learned a surprising number of people struggle with this, but haven’t found a sure fire way to get rid of fire ants.
Just a Spoon Full of Sugar
We focused on the borax and sugar as being the best solution and happily prepared this mix. The ants immediately swarmed, confirming we had made a good choice. These critters are persistent hunters.
As they migrated to new places, to counter their activity, we placed little cotton balls with the poison wherever we saw movement. With no results. In fact, the ants increased in number! In their persistence, they ranged from my desk in the living room to Galina’s desk in her bedroom. The only victims seemed to be us!
We made a counter attack. Everything was scrupulously scrubbed and fresh cinnamon laid everywhere. There was nothing to eat. Why did they persist? They hated the cinnamon and vinegar we sprayed, yet the hordes increased. They entered the tiniest crack in the windowsill, which we sealed off with cinnamon. More arrived from different places.
We counter attacked with fresh strong boundaries. In defiance, hordes – more than had been in the kitchen – moved into Galina’s closet and set up housekeeping.
A basket of clean laundry was in her closet. That afternoon, as she went to put them away, she found literally hundreds and hundreds of ants swarming the basket, marching through the clothes rack down to the basket.
We are speaking of fire ants! Not sugar ants. You don’t just pick up a basket swarming with hundreds of fire ants. Like a sensible person, she retreated, calling for back-up.
I arrived with cinnamon and she laid a thick boundary to keep them out of the bedroom. Thankfully, they remained in the closet, while a few ran about in the bathroom and kitchen.
As the invasion rose to a new level, we vacuumed them, sprayed them, and scooped them into soapy water. Fresh boundaries of cinnamon further enraged them.
To our joy, the numbers diminished from thousands to hundreds. A couple days of intensive warfare against the invaders greatly reduced the numbers. A firm boundary was established.
The next morning, lifting an item from my dresser, I uncovered a host of ants. They had shifted headquarters 70 feet away to the end of the house in my dresser. We quickly established new boundaries with the cinnamon.
Further researching, we covered areas all over the house – inside and out – with diatomaceous earth, which is supposed to kill them.
They reacted and left my bedroom. But reappeared in the kitchen. Fire ants are persistent and difficult to see. They prefer bare skin – and quite happily crawl under clothing before they bite. One or two are a nuisance but if swarmed – you may be seriously in danger and even die from their attack. We were very prayerful.
Attacking the Queen
Fire ants are secretive. Back in the kitchen, as Galina began to lay down fresh cinnamon, I stopped her. Better to see where they are, than drive them underground where they gain more power.
Then Galina got an ingenious idea! She added chicken fat to the borax. We laid down nicely fattened borax on the kitchen counter and they swarmed.
Some carried the “fat of the land” away. Others gorged themselves.
We had learned our goal was to kill the queen who continually lays eggs. Unless she dies, her emissaries keep coming.
Next morning there were many dead ants. Scores, in their lust for delicious poison, vigorously crawled over the bodies to get to the fat.
Defiant in the Face of Death
In utter defiance, rejecting the land God had freely provided for them, these ants chose to live on the “fat of the land” filled with poison. Even when bodies of their comrades warned of danger, they continued to eat. In fact, death seemed to draw more to come join the feast.
They failed to discern the warnings, the visual signs, or smell of death. Hard workers, ants make provision for their young. Diligent, they engage in sacrificial work.
But they hate boundaries. Secretive, they love the darkness. Easy access to comfort makes them vulnerable to the perceived fat of the land. Loving the darkness, they quickly believed a lie, and willingly sacrificed themselves on the altar of what tasted good and felt like it gave them more power.
Are You Like The Ants?
When we are hurting, lonely, frightened, angry, or have unmet needs, in our emptiness we turn to the secret place of our mind for safety and comfort. We engage with thoughts that feel satisfying.
We turn from the Living Water to become slaves in our imagination, slaves in our behavior, and slaves who willingly begin the march to death as we in our hunger eat unclean food.
In the inner sanctum of our heart, we prefer darkness to the light of the Bible, which lays healthy boundaries.
Threatened by boundaries that feel restricting, we become addicted to thoughts of our imagination where we can justify anger for those who hurt us. Nursing bitterness in our mind and our heart, we fail to forgive.
Empowered by lies, we find ways around the boundary to drink from filthy cisterns. The boundary of God’s Word is overridden. Without remorse or shame, we traffic in the darkness.
God's Divine Order
In the Lord’s divine order, ants are to live outdoors. When they move into people’s homes, that divine order is violated. It is the same in the spiritual realm.
If I view an unkind thought in my mind, it becomes an idol of jealousy set before my eyes. Rather than devotion to the Lord Jesus, thoughts range unhindered. If I engage with secret things, I will lie down and sleep with what is unclean and it is joined with me.
Scripture gives multiple examples of men and women who let the sun go down on their wrath. After sleeping with unclean imaginations of anger, fear, or bitterness, they awoke to engage in actions of murmuring, speaking lies, theft, immoral relations, and even murder. (Genesis 4:5-8; Number 14; John 12:3-8, 12:2; 2 Peter 2:5).
Like ants consuming what devoured them, Israel’s march through the wilderness became a march of death for they refused to turn from their idolatry and lust for the fleshpots of Egypt.
If with gratitude, they had given thanks to the Lord who delivered them from slavery and torment, they would have experienced life and inner freedom.
In case you were wondering… we don’t know if the poison taken back to the nest killed the queen, but after much prayer and much fat and borax had been consumed, the ants disappeared.
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