In the beautiful Song of Solomon, we often overlook that little verse in chapter two, which says, “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” (vs 15) The Shulamite woman is making a request of her beloved and right in the middle of this beautiful discourse her brothers pipe up and interject this simple phrase – plainly put, a request for their sister to be guarded from anything spoiling this impending relationship. . . I find it most interesting that they are worried about “little things getting in the way” and not focused on some big “What if.” Then again, it’s always the little things which seem to throw that proverbial wrench into an otherwise seemingly perfect plan.
I remember a couple of years after my father abandoned our family, my older brother seeking to lead as a male in our home, although he was already out on his own. In an effort to mold me into a good ole Southern boy, my brother planned a deer hunting trip one New Year’s Eve. Not only was I not into hunting, but New Year’s Eve!!!?? Really? I had been invited to a middle school New Year’s Eve party at which there was promised to be an abundance of mistletoe. Well, my brother let me go to the party, but at midnight O-one, he was standing at the door of my friend’s house insisting that it was time to head out on this great adventure. From the freezing cold weather to the fact that no one in this hunting group knew anything about silk, linen, or cashmere hunting attire (I didn’t either – I was just asking, and it seems they don’t make camo in those fabrics), I could tell quickly that this outdoor thing may not really be my thing. . .
In what seemed like minutes after we had gone to bed in this cold, drafty camp, my brother awoke me and told me it was time to go hunting. I dressed in as many layers as my body could physically support and off we trudged into the darkness. We arrived at what was referred to as a “stand”, my brother placed me in it, with a rifle, and told me to sit quietly. He further instructed me that if I saw a deer, I was to shoot it. As the sun was coming up and I could begin to see clearly that I was in the middle of nowhere, with no clue how to get to warmth, food, or anything else normally recognizable in my world, I heard a rustling in the brush in front of this platform attached to a tree where I had been placed for viewing. Suddenly I saw the prize. A Deer!! I raised my gun, and with two quick shots, down he went. YES!!! I had no idea about this whole hunting thing, but apparently, I was good at it!! I began to shout for my brother, who quickly replied with colorful words that I was not supposed to be shouting in the woods – even if I had just conquered what I thought was a trophy for this crazy sport.
Needless to say, there were many other details to this event, but I will spare you the longer story by simply saying that my brother left out one small, HUGE detail when he told me to shoot a deer if I saw one. HE DID NOT inform me that the dang thing was supposed to have horns!!!! After getting the beating of my life and burying the deer’s head to save this camp embarrassment, this young man, then fourteen years old, vowed to never, ever hunt again. . . I went on to be the guy who became the willful cook of all things game, but never again have I taken my hand at any sort of hunting adventure.
In truth, I’m probably not wired to be the outdoor guy, and as stated earlier, the fabric selections for camo are very limited – for goodness sake, you can’t even get any bright paisley prints in camo for some reason . . . We laugh a little at this very true story, a childhood memory which taught me much, but all too often we as believers live this very way. Just as the one little detail of the deer needing horns could have changed the entire trajectory of my entire experience and possible future participation in the sport of hunting, we too often let just the smallest of things ruin what could otherwise be this amazing and overwhelming life, in Christ. A “Pet sin”, one small side-pleasure that seems harmless enough, and yes, even our own pride, clearly spelled E G O, delude us into believing that all is well, and these little things will never impact us because we buy the lie, “I got this!” Before you know it, our walk is wavering, our witness is watered down, and the abundant harvest of what appeared to be and could have truly been this amazing vineyard in which we were intended to live in the richness of God’s blessing is spoiled, spoiled by the little foxes we’ve allowed to spoil the vines of our life in Christ.
As we near the celebration of Thanksgiving in the month of November, may I encourage you to not only give thanks, but perhaps do some pruning. Evaluate the richness and abundance of God’s love as you note those things for which you are thankful and those things from which you’ve been spared, by God’s mercy. In so doing, look carefully among the vineyard of God’s blessings on your life currently and honestly evaluate. Are there little foxes of any sort, waiting in the shadows, hoping to steal the sweet fruit of the harvest God has intended for your life? Just as the Shulamite woman longed greatly for her beloved, and even her brothers worked to guard her impending relationship with her suitor, will you, in thanks, take the time this Thanksgiving to guard all that God has given you, primarily your life in Christ by ferreting out the little foxes and insisting they go?
He Pursues Us,