Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! Proverbs 6:6
If the Bible tells me to study an ant in order to learn something about being wise, I’m sure I can learn pretty much the same thing from a bee. It says something about God’s created order — the natural world — that there are lessons to be had everywhere. This is the design we talk about when we talk about creation. God made things for a purpose. The animal world — even the insect world — is there to teach us things about life. These lessons are built in. It is not a random universe. There is divine thought behind everything.
So just outside my dining room window where I often write in the early morning, there is a lesson that greets me every day this time of year. It’s hard to miss it because it shows itself at the first little sliver of light as a loud, almost deafening — if you focus on it — hum. It’s the presence of what seems like thousands of bees in the huge tree in the back of my house. Our tree guy says it’s some kind of pepper tree. I don’t know for sure, but its sprawling branches provide shade for five houses that back into it. And this time of year it flowers, and the flowers consist of little tiny yellow balls of pollen that drop like rain on our yard and our patio. It’s bee heaven.
There’s so much of this pollen now on my brick patio that quite a few bees just buzz on the ground, hopping around and taking what clings to their sticky legs. I just counted about 25 of them in a four square foot area. I call these guys the cheaters. They don’t have to constantly be in flight up in the tree; they just walk around on the ground and pick up what’s already fallen. That would be me. If there’s an easier way to do something, I will find it. That’s okay, as long as it’s not a shortcut that gives you inferior results.
So I just revealed a little bit about myself and why I need to learn from these bees every morning. I’m naturally lazy. I’m the opposite of industrious. Seriously, these bees show up at the crack of dawn and stay until total darkness. That’s at least thirteen hours straight. Some of them won’t make it back to the hive. They work so late that they’ll opt to sleep on the couch so they can get started right away in the morning.
So if I’m tempted to sleep on the job or take an inferior shortcut, I just go outside and listen to the hum. It’s the hum of industry. Go to the bee, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise.
I think I’ve made an unhealthy conclusion about work — that because work won’t get you anywhere in relation to salvation and eternity, I’ve concluded that work in general is bad. Not true. Work is necessary for life. It may be a part of the curse, but it’s still a requirement — even a privilege. You can’t work your way to heaven, but you can (and must) work your way to providing for those you love. Work is what the marketplace is all about. Even accomplishing things for the kingdom of God takes work. You work by faith that God is in you and His Holy Spirt is working through you. It’s still work. You show up like a busy bee, ready to get things done. You rely on work to get things done; you just don’t rely on it to please God. That, you already have by faith.
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13