Ants are endlessly fascinating creatures. I remember as a child sitting by ant mounds for long stretches of time, just watching the workers going in and out building the nest one grain of sand at a time, or following an ant trail backward for what to an ant must seem like miles to a food source. These tiny creatures are remarkable for their social organization and amazing strength, capable of carrying loads many times larger and heavier than themselves.
A man was watching one of these fascinating creatures carrying a piece of straw that was quite a bit longer than herself. As he watched, the ant came to one of
those deep cracks
in the ground that happen in Texas during dry summers (not this one, obviously, but you remember what most summers are like). The crack was too wide for the ant to step across, too steep for her to carry her load down and up again, and too long to walk around without becoming disoriented.
The ant walked back and forth, seemingly examining the problem from all angles, and the man assumed that eventually she would have to leave her treasure behind in order to return home. Suddenly the tiny creature, with virtually no brain to speak of, lowered her head, laid the straw across the gap, walked over on the straw, picked it up and resumed her journey.
The ant turned her burden into a bridge. (Story found at Lectionaid. com)
How often do we find ourselves carrying burdens that seem far too large to bear? We feel like that ant, loaded to the hilt with concerns about our lives, our families, our jobs; perhaps lugging feelings of guilt, of shame, of doubt; getting by, but just barely getting on. And then we find ourselves faced with a seemingly impossible obstacle. We complain that God has promised that we will not be given a load impossible to carry, and yet here we are with no way forward, no way around.
Like the ant, our first step is to lay our burdens down. Place our fears, our doubts, our uncertainties before the presence of God. Then we can look for a way forward, which is often based on the very issues that have been weighing us down all along: The troubled child who becomes a blessing, the learnings we have achieved that help a neighbor through his own difficult times. The burdens that we lay down at the feet of Jesus are turned into a cross we can now lift up again and bear on behalf of others.
And then our burden is turned into a bridge.
Turn our burden into a cross. Richard Safford is pastor at Community Presbyterian Church.