Imagine all the ants in Africa get together and decide to hold an arm-wrestling tournament, with the winner to be crowned as Grand Empress of the Ants. A driver ant queen (which can be up to 2 inches long!) named Helga wins and the ants are proudly showing off their new queen. An elephant walks by and asks what’s going on and the ants tell him. He responds, “Well, from up here, you all look the same to me.”
Now imagine that this elephant can change any ant into a baby elephant, provided the ant believes it can be done. One brave young ant named Mary steps forward and is changed into an elephant. She’s now no longer in competition with the other ants, neither should she be doing ant-y things. She’s an elephant, with all the responsibilities, abilities, and privileges thereof.
We’re the ants in this short fable and the elephant is God. It doesn’t matter to Him what position we achieve. He wants to make us like Him. I’ve used this illustration before and taken seven points from it, but there’s another one that struck me only this morning:
God has no interest in helping you win the tournament. God’s interest is in getting you out of the tournament altogether.
In the world’s tournament, there are rewards based on your decisions and sometimes on your luck. Some of these are necessary, like money, but only so much money is necessary. Mark Zuckerberg, in terms of the tournament, has definitely won. He’s only 30, but is a self-made multi-billionaire. Married to his college girlfriend, too. He’ll never be able to go through all that money. If his stock plummets, he may lose it, but he’ll never spend it all. So many people are hoping to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, competing for that kind of money and life, even though it’s way more than they could ever need.
God does want to give you the things you need while you’re here. Food, clothing, roof over your head, etc. Following Him may provide great earthly rewards in terms of money or influence. The key words, however, are “Following Him.”
God is in this for His glory, not for yours.
If you’re trying to win the tournament, He will not help you because He doesn’t get glory when you take it for yourself. He doesn’t get glory when you’re rich and forget Him. He gets glory when there’s no way you can do it by yourself, but you give the situation to Him and let Him work as only He can. And His working may or may not bring you what you want down here, but if it doesn’t, it will be better for you than what you wanted.
And regardless of what it is, there is a huge benefit to being out of the tournament: peace. We get in this tournament to prove ourselves against others, to earn love and respect and rewards. We want to leave our mark on the world, and we set our sights on certain goals that, should we achieve them, will accomplish this goal in our eyes. These don’t have to be world-changing things, but when we want them badly enough, they consume us. When we get our value from them, they take more from us than they could ever give back.
By leaving the tournament, you become more than a conqueror. The conqueror is still bound by the rules of the tournament. Helga conquered the other ants, but she would eventually be taken down by another ant, who would in time lose to yet another ant. By becoming an elephant, Mary became more than a conqueror. By changing where she got her value from, she was able to stop trying to earn it and, in so doing, got more than the tournament could have ever given her.