Late one cold, rainy Sunday afternoon I made a cup of hot chocolate to enjoy while I snuggled up with a book and a blanket in our sunroom. After I drank about half the cup, I got sidetracked and left my book and beverage on a table while I attended to the laundry. A few hours later, I remembered my abandoned chocolaty goodness and knew it would have grown cold, but after all it was chocolate and I’ve never been one to waste something so precious. I walked through the now darkened sunroom, reached for my cup of chocolate deliciousness and took a big drink. Immediately I knew something was terribly wrong. Chocolate milk was supposed to have a smooth, creamy texture and what I had in my mouth was anything but smooth and creamy. My concern grew as I walked toward the light of the kitchen and peered down into the cup. To my complete and absolute horror the cup was FILLED with tiny sugar ants. I let out a blood curdling scream as I ran in to the kitchen and spewed the chocolate-milk-covered ants into the sink. Throwing down the cup, I screamed again as I re-lived the sensation of those horrid little creatures swimming around in my mouth. I shuddered and spit into the sink once again, even though my mouth was completely empty. I finally summoned the courage to get a better look into the contents of the cup and sure enough, it was still SWARMING with tiny sugar ants. Not a “couple of” not a “few” but an entire “army” of sugar ants!
I hesitated, certain that I’d seen enough, but a warped sense of curiosity compelled me to get an even closer look. There in the middle of the teeming ants was the remnant of a puffy, white marshmallow and a company of ants efficiently using it for a dual purpose: as a snack and a raft, nibbling and floating peacefully in a sea of chocolate.
Of course I screamed again, unable to erase the grotesque image from my mind and the harsh reality that I had actually swallowed some of the vile creatures.
As I approached my unflustered husband who was calmly sitting in the family room trying to watch a basketball game on TV, I began to wonder at his unresponsiveness to my noisy ordeal. Admittedly, it wasn’t the first time in our many years together that he’d heard me scream, and I finally decided that he had probably assessed the intensity of my outburst and reasoned that once again, I was overreacting. Eventually, I was able to compose myself enough to tell him what happened and because I was already laughing, it gave him permission to laugh with me as he said, “Oh no!” It was actually quite a significant response coming from my unflappable husband.
I enlisted my dear hubby’s assistance to determine how those annoying creepy-crawlies entered our peaceful abode. We were shaking our heads in disbelief (and denial for me) as we traced the trail of ants from the side table where my hot chocolate had been desecrated, to the nearby door that led outside. Sure enough, those ingenious insects had devised an ant chain leading all their friends, neighbors and relatives to the free beverage and swim inside the Yancey home. I didn’t feel one ounce of guilt or remorse as we sprayed down the besieged area with bug spray and wiped out the entire population in addition to spoiling the fun of future un-invited pest-guests.
I was still chuckling to myself an hour later, mostly recovered from my ordeal and looking forward to my daughter’s return that evening so I could tell her the tale of her crazy mother’s latest “antics”. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist)
Have you ever had an experience like that? Not drinking a cup full of ants exactly, but anticipating something pleasurable and been disheartened when it turned out to be really unpleasant instead? Repeated disappointment can cause disillusionment and even cynicism and sometimes it just seems easier to set expectations so low, there is little danger of being disappointed. I have to be honest, I can’t drink a cup of hot chocolate without thinking about those stupid ants. But I don’t want my enjoyment of a tasty cup of hot chocolate to be forever-clouded by my distasteful experience.
During the course of life, I’ve had to repeatedly ask God to take my cup that is filled with the disappointment of unmet expectations, betrayal, hurt and fear, and pour the spoiled contents down the drain. Then I’ve had to humbly ask Him to rinse out my cup and make it completely clean; I don’t want a single drop of residue to be left behind which might taint the good things that God desires to pour in. The key is to ask God to empty the cup as soon as I’m aware of the negative things beginning to ferment within. How can blessing be poured into a cup that is filled with toxic waste?
It’s true, every once in a while life may serve me up a “cup of ants.” I still always have a choice: I can respond to disappointment by becoming pessimistic and skeptical, refusing to hope for something better, or I can ask God to help me dump my disappointment down the drain, present my cup to Him for a good scrub, and have faith that He will eventually fill it with His very best for me.
After all, I’ve enjoyed many cups of hot chocolate in my lifetime and have been served up only one cup of ants.
What disappointment or hurt have you allowed to ferment in your heart? What blessings could you be missing out on because the cup of your heart is already filled to the brim with those toxic, fermenting attitudes? Are you willing to present your heart to God so that He can cleanse it and fill it with His very best for you?
You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Psalm 23:5 NLT
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7 NLT
You will show me the way of life. Being with You is to be full of joy. In Your right hand there is happiness forever. Psalm 16:11 NLT