Song of Solomon 2:15
Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.
I never understood this verse until now. I was reading a book and Charles Spurgeon was quoted saying that we need to be careful of little foxes in the vineyard. The book itself, for me, Sin No More by Michael L. Brown, started out as a rehashing of things I know but, it got me thinking.
“Sin is bad in the eye, worse in the tongue, worse still in the heart but worst of all in the life.” Thomas Brooks
I have a special place in my heart for foxes for whatever reason. My old house had a fox who frequented my yard. I would catch sight of the mother, at about 6:45 in the morning after a rain. Other times I would see her on the edge of the woods just sitting there at night, when we turned on the light to let the dog out. She was not a small fox either. However, I will never forget the first time I heard that screech she made during mating season. It scared me to death, in the middle of the night, and she was right outside my bedroom window. How could something so beautiful emanate that sound, over time she always get closer to the house, always watching. However, I loved looking out for her. We had a bird feeder and the entire food chain was present: birds, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, hawks, possums, snakes and occasionally a coyote, but she watched and then there were the neighborhood emails asking if anyone had seen their cat. Why yes we had seen them but no more…..
One day, I went into the gully next to my house to pick up all the run off trash and I came across a den. This gully was more of a first stage drainage area with no water but trees had grown in and around it. You wouldn’t even know it was there. It was like its own world, once you entered it. Just outside of the den was the bottom portion of small dear leg and it was still fresh. I will not forget the feeling that came over me, and how everything had gotten quiet all around me. You could hear a leaf drop, suddenly all my senses sharpened and I felt as though something was watching me. Could this be a fox or something bigger? I just didn’t know, but I was spooked none the less. I twirled around, I looked to see if I could see anything peering out from within the thicket. The air was heavier, my heart pounded a little harder. I could see my house above me to the left but while that is were I wanted to be, I couldn’t just wish my way back. I had to venture back and watch my step to make sure I wouldn’t step on a copperhead. Now why would I worry about a copperhead. Well a year earlier, I found a baby one in my garage and instead of killing it I released it in the gully. It was strange, but in that moment I was aware how wild the world was right outside the boundary of my yard. I instantly remembered the snake and knew in so many words that even though, I had forgotten about it, it was still there and I had let it live in close proximity of my house and now I could be bit. How many times have you let sin slither by you only to have it return later to say, “Hello.”
Like most of my blogs, God gives me a title and the journey begins. This one is no different. As I was telling my friend the latest title he started quoting Foghorn Leghorn. Who da thunk, Foghorn Leghorn, as a source of spiritual revelation, strange but true. While the above story is the essence of today’s discussion, I can’t help but quote my favorite Rhode Island Red.
“Now let me know when I come to something that interests you.”
There was an episode called Fox-Terror. Foghorn’s going fishing, but a watchful fox had other plans for him. Drawing Foghorn into conversation he suggested that instead of going fishing, Foghorn should get a hunting dog and go hunting instead. Unaware of the foxes true intent, Foggy takes the barnyard dog and they go hunting. Once the dog is gone, the fox naturally goes after the chickens. One of the hens pulls the fox alarm, and the dog comes running back. The fox just looked at this as a minor setback, disguised himself and then lured the dog and Foghorn into a conversation and convinced them to fight each other while the fox again tries to get the prize. They go through another cycle or two of abuse before identifying their common enemy. They team up and go after him and get him to leave.
“I say you got to keep on your toes, toes that is.”
The Bible describes Satan as a marauding devouring lion, looking for victims. As we look at sin we need to remember, what exactly are we focused on that keeps us from our full communion with God. The fox just like Satan is working a strategy and is always watching and waiting for an opportunity. If we carry on without a thought in the world and unaware of the pitfalls around us, we can get tagged without realizing it. If you go back to the bible verse, a pure moment can get spoiled if no one is watching and on guard. If we are the bride and the Song of Solomon certainly is a song for a bride, then we are told that while we are to enjoy the relationship, there are still “foxes” out their that can ruin the fruit.
Once the fear settled in while I was in the gully, my senses became extremely keen. I could see and sense everything, I guess my survival skills kicked in. Out of fear I was looking out for any surprises that I might encounter or at least be prepared for them. In the boundaries of my yard, I casually watched nature on display from the “safety” of the living room window to watch birds, foxes, squirrels and the neighboring cats, do what they do best. And just because I didn’t see them act out in survival mode doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. One day there would be one less chipmunk and one less cat with no feeling attached to it. Funny as it is, if Foghorn had not engaged with the fox, none of his troubles would have started. He would have gone fishing and the dog would have remained, but that is not the story. How many times have we willing engaged in conversation with Satan, who is only to happy to discuss your life, and allow him to change our focus until it was too late and take us out of a situation or put us in one we never intended.
Going back to the gully, when fear set in, my senses were engaged, but I would say they were engaged because I was afraid. I found myself in a place, I had wandered into for the right reasons, being a good citizen picking up the trash. I did not have a care in the world, I was enjoying my life on a Saturday afternoon but when I realized that it wasn’t what it seemed everything changed. After that day, when I went into that gully, I never approached it the same way again. Many cats wandered in my woods never to leave. They had no clue what awaited them because they were never taught to be cautious. They were focused on what they wanted instead of they thought the fox wanted. Can you see the parallel. It is with this understanding that I press on.
A lot of us talk about who we are today in Christ, me included. We speak about all the wonderful things we experience in Christ. We speak about sin in our lives as a past tense event we have conquered. We see little things along the way that we need to correct but for the most part we believe we are tracking wholly towards Jesus. However, I would like to challenge you today and say that while I agree that the big sin tickets items are probably no longer major influences in your life, and we have received freedom from that, I will say that you probably have just as many, if not more little sin ticket items(foxes) still keeping you from fully experiencing the blossoming vineyards God has prepared for you.
“Now who’s, I say who’s responsible for this unwarranted attack on my person!”
Let me give you a few examples inspired by Michael L. Brown’s book, “Sin No More.” and I emphasize the point.
- While I am no longer addicted to drugs, when I am alone and everything seems to go crazy I reach for a sweets instead of drugs, which turned out to be my new drug of choice.
- Am I really calling on God to comfort me?
- While pornography is no longer an issue for some, when a beautiful women walks in the room, the brain starts going through the motions.
- Am I really asking God for help to fight that lust battle, as we secretly engage in the fantasy?
- While I no longer put my nose into the relationships of my friends or family members for other reasons than actually offering an ear, I still find myself reading tabloids trying to understand private lives of celebrities.
- Do I envy the lives of other people while not making an effort to fix mine or am I running away from reality?
- I may no longer steal money, but I won’t think twice of misreporting my income on my taxes.
- Do I really have faith in God to provide?
- I may no longer step on other peoples fingers to work my way up the ladder, but I will not let a fellow colleague know what he is doing or saying is putting a bad light on himself with management.
- Am really coveting my colleagues misfortune for my benefit?
As you can see it is the same sin dressed up in more suitable attire, incognito. So while we may say we are walking with Christ under the new covenant, I would challenge you and say you may still be operating under the old covenant and walking under the law in areas of our life. If that is the case, you may have a spiritual blind spot. We might think we have graduated but sin still has a hold on you. The issue always is, what effect does that sin have on our life. How does it effect my walk with the Lord or has it taken me out of the race altogether. How many foxes are you allowing to run around and persuade you to hunt instead fish. I can tell you that Christ prefers us to fish.
Just because everything is in bloom doesn’t mean that something else isn’t trying to kill the bloom. We need to be persistent and continually weed the garden of the things that don’t belong or chase them out.
Remember the copperhead, how I let it live only to give it a place of fear in my heart a year later. I had let it flourish nearby believing it would never bother me. Let’s go to 1 Samuel 15 and discuss Saul’s disobedience. He did not listen to God, and let sin continue when he did not do as God commanded. He justified keeping the best spoils for himself and did not destroy everything. He even let King Agag live, which went against what God commanded. This was the beginning of the end for God’s favor on his reign and it went downhill from there. And because he did not destroy everything, that sin remained dormant to harass the Jews until the time of Esther, who rose to the occasion and confronted it once and for all. It was Haman, a descendant of King Agag that was terrorizing the Jews at that time.
Think about this, Saul was a chosen king by God , he was in God’s favor but because of disobedience, not ignorance, was made powerless. He walked in utter chaos and paranoia till the end of His days. But go back to our Bible verse, what foxes do you suppose, were frolicking in his vineyard to cause him to disobey God? It just didn’t happen overnight, these things sort of creep up upon us if we are not on guard. Give an inch here an inch there. By this example, it doesn’t matter what we think, its what God thinks and in this case, Justice may have been delayed but not denied for Saul and Agag’s descendant!!!
“I say, boy, pay attention when I’m talkin’ to ya, boy”
Our ignorance and passivity to sin may in fact, empower it to erect new altars in our hearts and around us. With ignorance there is always opportunity for revelation and repentance, but if somehow you manage to get to a place where everything is permissible, because you love God with all your heart and that is all you need , I would hope that you take heed to this message. If you, like Saul, somehow do connect the dots and start demonstrating your benevolence with the good you are doing in the name of God, you may have taken spiritual license. Believing that God’s favor provides you with special access, may place you on a path that you do not want to go down.
While you are in bloom, you are not absolved from adversity or affliction, as a matter of fact you are more susceptible. When Samuel confronted Saul, Saul thought he had done the right thing and rationalized his position. It did not matter, favored King or not, NO ONE IS ABOVE GOD’S PROVIDENCE.
So where are we going with all this? “I need, I say, I need a pointer.”
Think back on your life, what happened when you were caught in sin? Remember that feeling, the world literally stops and a mirror is placed in our face and Satan will waste no time condemning you. Guilt and shame are amplified. You feel absolutely horrible, and depending on the situation, you would rather die than move forward. That is what is so crazy about sin. You are just going along minding your own business. One minute you are drinking the nectar of the gods, with grapes being hand fed to you and BOOM the next minute your actually wearing the emperors’ clothes. Sin always gets revealed. Once I got rid of the big sins in my life, I acted like I had graduated and found myself back in another mess.
I had to ask God to reveal in me that which would prevent me from getting closer to Him. The things I am about to reveal are things I carried with me all the time and I just thought they were part of who I was. These were some of the little foxes in my vineyard, running around in my ear whispering, spoiling the tender grapes.
- Fear of getting in trouble-My actions were always based on not getting in trouble, not walking in confidence in the gifts God gave me. Anytime someone wanted to talk to me I froze. I was an awfullizer.
- Fear of what people think of me-I needed everyone to like me, a never ending battle.
- Fear of having said the wrong thing- Going over conversations in my head wondering if I said the wrong thing that could get me in trouble.
- Fear about finances
- I relived the past over and over, replaying events trying to figure it out. Trying to make sense out of nonsense.
- Thoughts that popped in my head around women- I had listened to the world saying that is just how men are, forget about it. In my heart I knew different, that was only an excuse not to change.
- Always saw the negative side of a person first.
- I always seemed to be mad at someone.
- When my wife and I got in an argument, I always thought divorce was around the corner.
- I believed that my wife just put up with me and her life dreams were not being fulfilled because of my shortcomings.
On the surface, no one would know this was happening in my life, but see how this can steal the joy from your heart. The funny thing about this is, as these messages pounded away at me, they actually opened doors to other sins. I ended up in an even more vicious cycle. I was hiding from myself, while the foxes ran rampant. I had to work through these one by one with God to get restoration. At one point, I was in outright disobedience, for not addressing these issues once I knew they we effecting my walk. The fear I lived in heightened my senses through paranoia, and I was afraid all the time. I was actually attending a masquerade party everyday pretending to be someone I wasn’t. Telling everyone how they should behave while not conquering this in my own life. This is where legalism begins, and since I had confessed my sins and was supposedly healed, I had to don my holy disguise. That is why this is so important to discuss.
The life I described was my life as a Christian, so how can one possibly get to the other side? How do we possibly live above the law as Christ said and not get lured back and caught within the grasp of sin.
“As senior rooster ’round here, it’s my duty, and my pleasure, to instruct junior roosters in the ancient art of roostery”
Pray to understand and walk in the Fear of the Lord.
- Fear of the Lord, provides spiritual awareness and activates our senses to be able to discern what is around us.
- As I have learned to walk in this, I can see the world around me with a new set of lenses.
- I hear Holy Spirit more clearly.
- Fear of the Lord operates on the other side of guilt and shame. From there all our actions honor God and anything we do that does not honor God comes into focus. I can see the bend in the road and be led from temptation.
- I can hear Holy Spirit say, “Don’t go there.”
- My love for the Father is front and center of all my actions and because of that love I do not want to disappoint Him out of love not fear.
- I intuitively know that I am about to do something that would hurt the Father or me. I can see beyond the sinful act. (I say this is full confidence knowing Christ is with me. I will not bow to the phrase be careful what you pray for……)
- Fear of the Lord prepares us for every encounter and we are able experience life to its fullest as trust is built between us.
- I haven’t felt this alive in years and I don’t have that feeling that life is just an existence. I walk in confidence, but not foolish to think that sin will leave me alone.
- I walk on the field with my shoulder pads on, knowing I will get hit, and the pads are God’s grace.
- Fear and sin steals the breath of life from us as we wait for the next shoe to drop.
- Fear of the Lord is not a one way street. I receive something and I can attest that it is true what Proverbs 9:10 says, The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
- Fear of the Lord keeps us at the ready and mindful of our surroundings as we walk in the light instead of the darkness.
- 1 John 1:7 says –7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son cleanses us from all sin.
- See in this verse we are walking in the light but we still need the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from all sin in and around us.
- This is the washing of the feet, we still need to walk out our lives in this world with the faith that Jesus will continually cleanse us.
- Sin is around us and we can’t help but get slimmed at times. We will make mistakes and sometimes big ones, but this allows us to recognize them more quickly, admit our faults, clean ourselves up and ask for Jesus’ cleansing power to “wash our feet.”
- Worldly fear keeps us on the defensive and in the dark with a false illusion of no hope.
- 1 John 1:7 says –7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son cleanses us from all sin.
- Fear of the Lord activates our ability to walk in Holiness and be perfected in Him and since sin can’t stand in Holiness’ presence, it is easy to see how we would recognize sin in any form if the body is clean and the feet are dirty.
- Fear of the Lord trumps normal fear, since I regard Heavenly Father need’s over my own, no matter what my feelings are (This is faith).
- Think about the rich man, he had a fear of losing all he had over following Christ. He wanted both. This is the same principle.
- Fear of the Lord reminds me WHO is in charge, and it ain’t me, but I must be reminded constantly.
Fear on either side of the fence heightens our awareness and senses for opposing reasons. The Fear of the Lord emanates from the light. I hope you can see a Fear of the Lord provides the necessities to engage the world under the protection of the Father. It will help you see the detect the foxes that are trying to spoil the fruit.
Finally, Fear of the Lord enhances our reverence towards the Father and places us at the proper position, AT HIS FEET!!!! If that is where we start our day, what could go wrong? Nothing!
“What’s the big idea of bashing me on the noggin with a rolling pin.”
I love you Father.
For the sentimental ones-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8TQZBHszI4