Work Like An Ant

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
— Proverbs 6:6

I’m on “T-Minus” count, T-minus 24 to be exact.

In 24 days Shannan and I are packing up the place we have called home for the last ten years. We are moving up (or down) the road. Our address will still read, “Boca Raton,” but with our kids out of the casa and raising families of their own, and mom enjoying days with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-10), we figured it was time to downsize.

Anyone who has moved knows the days leading up to “the day” are ones of sorting, thinning, packing, patching, painting, cleaning, and living in the continual hunt for more boxes.

My problem is compounded by two aging beauties in my garage. The Chevrolet is an octogenarian. It rolled off the assembly line in 1936. The battered old Chevy still gets around under it’s own power. In fact, since it had a heart transplant (a new engine) a few years back, it is downright fast. It will be easy to move.

The middle-aged Cutlass is a different story. At 53, it looks great. The problem is that does not run.

How’s that?

I won a very expensive electronic fuel ignition system (EFI) a few years back on the Hot Rod Power Tour. Everyone knows you can’t just toss a carburetor and go to EFI. Noooooooo! That would be way too easy. Instead, while we are at it, let’s rebuild the engine, the suspension, drop in a new steering column, change the ratio in the saginaw gear box, run new fuel lines, install a new brake power booster and master cylinder, add a push-button start, dump the old AC in favor of a more efficient and effective after-market model, re-wire the thing, and then fire it up and take her for a spin.

Let the record reflect this was my doing. When I started contemplating my grand plan, Shannan just smiled. She knows what we both know — in this family I am the more expensive date.

So about those ants . . .

Since everything on my “to do” is not done, the freshly rebuilt engine patiently waits the day when it will come to life. And as every hot rodder knows “nothing is easy.” There is always a part to modify, or a bolt that falls into an automotive black hole, or endless test-fitting of a new or modified part.

I cannot tell you how many times I have performed the necessary gymnastic twisting and turning required to squirm under the dash to test fit one little air duct that had to be significantly modified to fit my car (and I had to modify two for this car). And why? Because “they” don’t make the aftermarket AC system for the 1966 Oldsmobile.

Here’s an old car air conditioning secret: If want the cold stuff you are going to have to shed a lot of sweat to enjoy it. I am modifying the 1968-1969 system to fit my car.

This kind of stuff happens again and again; which means there is a LOT of work that no one will ever see and the entire project takes hours, which turn into days, which turn into months, which become years — exactly two since we first pulled the engine on this automotive adventure.

So about those ants . . .

Yes, I’m getting there.

I think I know how the team from NASA felt when they got the moon assignment. “Do you know how long it is going to take to do this?!” The list of all that needs to be done grows exponentially. It feels like, “I’m never going to get there!”

And you won’t . . . if you keep staring at the list. But, if you START and do a little bit here and a little bit there, before you know it . . . progress. At first, it is imperceptible, a centipede step of progress. But if you work like an ant, doing one thing today that you can do to achieve your goal, then all those little steps lead to the land of accomplishment.

In his book, 9 Things You Simply Must Do, Dr. Henry Cloud says, “When the ant works, the ant does one thing at a time. The ant takes one grain of sand from one end of his work site to the other. The ant’s mindset is ‘incremental thinking,’ one step at at time versus the idea of, ‘I’ve get it all done today.’”

Working like an ant, I was able to fabricate the part you see below and re-install a fender that has awaited that part before it could return to its rightful place on the Cutlass. This did not happen in a day. I do not know how many days and hours it has taken, but when I finally refit the fender late last night (it’s own challenge), I knew the joy the ant feels.

One step today leads to “mission accomplished” tomorrow (or some day in the future).

I keep a running list of my progress as motivation to “Work like an ant!” The list is also a daily treat, a little slice of satisfaction as I jot down the day and small step taken. As I watch that list grow, I know I am that much closer to achieving my goal.


In Proverbs six, Solomon writes:

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard;
    consider her ways, and be wise.
7 Without having any chief,
    officer, or ruler,
8 she prepares her bread in summer
    and gathers her food in harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
    When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
    and want like an armed man.

Are you face-to-face with a seemingly insurmountable task? I feel your pain! Don’t try to do it all today. God took six days to form the earth. Just get started. Work like an ant, practice incremental thinking and doing. It is God’s path to a task completed.