Just Ants Under the Magnifier

AntLife is a test. And God is the Great Examiner. He places us in various circumstances and situations to see how we’ll conduct ourselves in the midst. He watches to see whether we pass or fail. If we do the right thing in a given situation … for example, if we don’t get wasted on Friday night, and if we do help that old lady across the street, always tell the truth, never steal anything, don’t have sex with the wrong person or at the wrong time, memorize our weekly Sunday School Bible verse, never drop an F-bomb, and give enough money to the church or charity, etc., etc.; then we get a higher grade … a passing grade, and we get to go to Heaven when we die; where there will be no more testing going on. That’s pretty much the way it is. The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.

And everything you just read … is 100% cockamamie bull$&!*. (By the way, does anybody know what “cockamamie” actually is?)

In fact, the Bible (when taken as a whole) doesn’t say that, and I don’t believe that, although I’m also pretty sure that that still doesn’t settle it for many. Honestly, I myself have often thought … and even said in the past, that life is essentially a test. But if it really were so, doesn’t that sound a bit boring and sterile … or worse yet, kind of cruel? Who’d be up for that? Really? It brings to mind that mean kid with the magnifier frying ants on the sidewalk … where God’s the mean kid, you & I are the ants; and he’s just watching, waiting, and toying with us to see how much heat we can take before we either burn to a crisp or run away as fast as we can.

And honestly, isn’t that exactly how many of us have viewed life and God in our experience? And if so, is it any wonder that most of us spend the greater portion of our existence running to get away from him as fast and as far as possible … just like the ant on the sidewalk, bolting for the tall grass with his hair on fire (literally) to get away from the mean magnifier kid? And if so, who could really blame us? The story’s as old as Genesis. And make no mistake, it’s my story, too.

But is it actually so? Is life truly like that? If we are to believe so, then we must also assert that this overseeing God is a blatant hypocrite. After all, isn’t it he who commanded that we “do not put the Lord your God to the test,” as stated in Deut. 6:16 & Lk. 4:12? You’d also have to assume that God is a lot like the kid on the sidewalk … mean, aloof, uncaring, cruel, heartless, out of touch, and just kind of jacking with us. To be sure, life is very often unbearably difficult (gross understatement), and certainly feels like a test … or like a magnifier beating down on us in the hot sun. But who’s actually holding the glass? Well, if you believe in this kind of stuff, some might say the devil … or some incarnate force of evil. If you’re political, you might say it’s Obama … or John Boehner, or “the Man.” And maybe it is one of those or many others we could cite, but I’m pretty sure it’s not God. I think God is actually more likely to be the mean kid’s dad who sees what’s going on and puts the little brat in time out while he (Dad) gently picks up the injured, exhausted, and bewildered little ant, and sets him free in the cool grass of the lawn … hopefully to live a full and meaningful little ant life. After all, would a God who wishes not to be tested himself, then turn around and inflict the same on another? I think not. I certainly hope not! Furthermore … and here’s the real crux of the matter … he has no need to do so anyway. He already knows we’d fail the test … just like the ant couldn’t possibly outlive or outrun the heat of the magnified sun. The task at hand (and the mean kid holding the glass) is just too big … too hard … too monumental … too cruel for him to overcome. And God knows the same of us. He already knows we’ll fail the test miserably. In fact, he outright tells us so … right there in Psalm 103:14! “… he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Life, and all it will throw at us is just too big, too heavy, too hard, too overwhelming, and too hot for us to prevail. We absolutely, positively will fail in one or more of the major areas of life … marriage, parenting, sexuality, finances, moral purity, ethics, compassion, and so on. We will succumb at some point in our journey to envy, greed, lust, anger, gossip, selfishness, faithlessness, discouragement, fear, and many more. And not just once or twice. We’ll fail these “tests” over and over and over again … more times than we can count! And God already knows that about us. What need has he to test us of what he already knows?

Then what to make of it? What to make of him? Thankfully, he provided that answer on an incredible cheat-sheet that he provided for us before this great examination began. Just before he confided how he remembers “how we are formed … that we are dust” (i.e. vulnerable to all manner of storms, drought, wind, flood, heat, cold, disease, calamity, being trampled under foot, etc.); he also offered the following: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us for our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him(and why?) … for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:8-14).

And that … unlike the first paragraph of this piece … is no bull.

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10 Responses to Just Ants Under the Magnifier

  1. Paul says:

    Hi Randy

    Once again, in reading your posts, I am always a happier person after hearing what you have to say. This particular subject is one my sister and I have had on numerous occasions. I, at times leaning toward the all seeing God who watches and judges all our actions, and who will mete out punishment as He sees fit.

    My sister, on the other hand, has always taken your view of this situation. As we go through life experiences, both good and bad, we are constantly put to the test. I have always felt that our lives here on earth, are in many ways, the hell that is spoken of in the bible. Depending on how we deal with each of our “lessons” would determine whether we went to heaven or hell, according to His will.

    As I age, and experience life events, I am swayed more toward your view of our God. This brings me the most inner peace, and I do try on a daily basis to do what is morally right. I fail miserably at times, but as long as I breathe I will continue to try and do the things that promote the goodness in people. Thank you for this today. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I am passing this on to my sister so that she can say “I told you so!”

    • randyneff says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read, and for the kind words, Paul.
      It’s great to hear from you. Like you, I fail miserably at times, too …
      a LOT of times! But we’ll keep on picking ourselves up with God’s gentle
      help and pushing the ball further down the field.

      Peace to you & yours, my friend.


  2. pdbowers says:

    Reblogged this on Through My Eyes and commented:
    This is how I choose to believe our God works in the scheme of things. This from my friend Randy Neff, a great guy

  3. Phil Goins says:

    Feb 21, 2003
    This week’s theme
    Words with interesting etymologies

    This week’s words
    Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share
    with Anu Garg


    Pronunciation RealAudio
    cockamamie (KOK-uh-may-mee) adjective, also cockamamy

    Ridiculous; nonsensical.

    [The origin of the term cockamamie is not confirmed. It’s believed that it’s a corruption of decalcomania, the process of transferring a design from a specially prepared paper to another surface. In the beginning, a cockamamie was a fake tattoo, moistened with water and applied to the wrist. How it took the sense of something pointless is uncertain. It’s perhaps been influenced by such terms as cock-and-bull or poppycock.]
    As usual you make a very strong point against tradition and ignorance. Too many people believe God is such a mean vindictive God when in reality he is just the opposite. Great blog Bro.

  4. deniseml says:

    Hey RN,
    When I first started reading this I thought we had finally departed from the same path. I was much relieved as I continued on! I am so blessed to have you in my life with all of your great insight! I also believe in this benevolent, loving, forgiving God but it has been a journey. If you had asked me years ago, God would have always been kind for everyone else, but for myself he would have been a condemning jury. I saw myself as not worthy of this Love and constantly failing to deserve it. It took many dark nights (weeks, months) to suddenly realize well of course that’s true!! And that’s the beauty of it – it’s a pure, unselfish gift of Love! Wow! And thats how I finally came to truly understand God for myself! I love your image of the dad taking away the magnifying glass and gently picking up the ant and placing him on the lawn – so touching! I am so grateful for constantly being rescued by my patient “Dad.” Thanks so much Randy!

    • randyneff says:

      Hi, DL! It’s so great to see you on here! I know it took some courage
      to wander out of the shadows! 😉

      Thank you for the kind words. Believe me, it’s me who’s so blessed
      to be your friend. You’re a very rare soul!

      What you wrote here reminds me of something I’ve struggled mightily
      over for a long time … the idea that I’m the exception to the rule
      of God’s love for ALL of us. I’ve many times felt like it was kind
      of an “all of us except me” kind of a deal. Maybe we’ll explore that
      one a little more in depth sometime soon. Come again soon!


  5. Denise says:

    My dear sweet brother I am sorry that I am just now responding to this wonderful and insightful piece. I too love the image of the daddy protecting his child from the bullies. Growing up without a father I have always found such comfort in the thought that my Heavenly Father is always looking out for me. I guess I have never understood why every time something bad happens people want to blame God. Things happen as part of life. We cannot pick and chose when and where we are ok to have free will in our lives. As James says “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15 NIV). Jesus was himself tempted…but not by God, by the devil…”Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18 NIV). I draw comfort in times of temptation in knowing that my Savior knew my struggle first hand. Such an excellent point you make friend…He does know us and knows us completely and we would indeed fail…which is why He graciously sent His son to cover all my failure. I praise Him daily for that gift. And I thank Him for the gift of your wonderful insight and your willingness to share. I am blessed to call you friend and appreciate you so. Keep making me think and examine myself and His word. Love you!!

    • randyneff says:

      Hello, DTS! I think it’s YOU with all the insight. And I think you may have
      just written my next piece with this statement: “We cannot pick and choose
      when and where we are ok to have free will in our lives.” So brilliant. I’m
      going to do some thinking on this and see if anything may come of it. Thank
      you, sweet friend.

  6. I can always find my thoughts provoked to think deeper by one of your blogs. I have many to catch up on. I see you have not blogged in a year, hope your blogs will return. Until then, I have any to catch up on.

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