Thursday, April 22, 2010

Millions of Blessings

Millions of Blessings

Somewhere around 6 am, I began to wake up. In that murky state between dreams and reality, I couldn’t quite get my bearings . As I looked around, I saw a cockeyed bulb hung loosely from a wire in the b1athroom and a filthy ceiling fan dangled motionless above me. Slowly, it filtered through my sleep-muddled brain. Kenya! My second day in a small village in the landlocked Eastern province of Mwingi. I woke up for real then, anxious to get moving.
“Thank you God for this new day and everything it will bring me. Lord, let me always be ready to see the many blessings You provide each day, but I know this beautiful Kenyan day, above all, will be special. Let me remember every detail I experience.”
Brrrr! The Kenyan winter air felt chilly on my bare feet. I fished my socks from the sheets where they’d come off during the night and put them back on. Yawning, I slipped a foot out of bed and onto the floor. Just as quickly, I jerked it back up. Even in the poor lighting, I could see my white sock had instantly turned black.
What on earth had I stepped in? Ashes? Dirt? My scrutiny turned to shock when the color began to fan out. Tiny black moving dots. Something ALIVE. There could be no mistake…
ANTS! AaaaaAAAAGGGHHHH!
I began beating at my foot, of course sending the ants flying all over my sheets, and in my hair and on my hands and arms. Rolling around and flailing, I brushed everywhere at once, then slapped at the sheets to knock them off and out of my sight!
Did you ever notice how ants cling to human skin? I didn’t know what was making them stick to me — static electricity, something in the air, their species … did they have some super-duper appendages with magnetic properties... Whatever the reason, we tussled for the upper hand. My whacking beat their clinging.

When it seemed the ants had retreated and the immediate danger had passed, I observed my surroundings once more, my breath still coming in rasps. My poor eyes can’t usually see great detail, but that particular morning, they focused on quantity — hundreds, thousands, dare I guess even millions — of ants? Pull yourself together!
Trails of ants headed in every which direction — on the floor, on the walls forming a line to the ceiling, and those closer up, meandering drunkenly inside the creases of my sheets. Tiny black ants.
I let loose another scream as they began to attack me once more — an arm, my legs, a shoulder, a toe...my hands quivered as I beat them off and they scrambled for safety.
Get away, ants! Shoo!
I calculated every move I made, as if I were shipwrecked in the middle of an ocean, but instead of water, the ship was leaking ants. I didn’t want to fall out into the ants or have the ants drown me, so I clutched onto my sheet with one hand and kept the water – ahem, ants – at bay with the other.
Someone rapped on my door.
“Madame, I heard you making a small sound. Is everything okay?”
Who is that? What does she mean ‘a small sound’? People in the next village over should be able to hear that scream! I want them to! A ‘small sound!’ Is that her way of being polite?
Millions of ants have invaded my room and she asks me if I’m ‘all right?’ Of course I’m not! These better not be killer ants. Is there even such a thing?
“Can you open the door? Madame, are you awake? You are not having a nightmare?”
Yes, I most definitely AM. Like a feature film, my nightmare is showing “Attack of the Ants!”
As I tried to form the words, the footsteps receded and I found myself alone once more. Gradually my breathing slowed down and I cleared a manageable space around me, carefully got dressed, and then jammed my feet in close-toed shoes. By this time, the ants had receded to a circumference I could deal with.
As I sat on my bed thinking about the past few minutes (as that’s all it really lasted), some lyrics came to mind. “Count your blessings. Name them one by one...Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.” Many blessings? One by one? What? Whoa!
It occurred to me that we have so many blessings, we can’t even begin to realize how many — just like those ants! Each ant is an intricate and complete perfect specimen designed by God. Every single one is a reminder of what He has brought into our lives. I remembered my prayer earlier this morning. I certainly will recall every vivid detail of this experience. God had swiftly answered my prayer!
And with what humor! When I remember the flapping, flailing, spontaneous antics I went through, spurred on by the adventure of so many unsolicited ants invading my area, it makes me laugh instead. The ants never harmed me or put me in any real danger. I’m okay. I survived. They endured. Or many of them did. I can’t vouch for the whole lot of ‘em but they sure seemed like a hardy bunch.
At first I couldn’t believe what had happened but when I reflected on it afterward, I saw God’s immense humor come through. Can’t you just see an impish God chuckling as He spied down on me that morning? God wanted to give me unforgettable memories. He answers prayers, folks! Let’s always be ready for the surprise encounters God brings us; how rich and unexpected are His gifts!

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