In my part of the world, foxes are a celebrated creature. The age old sport of fox hunting is still practiced. One can find all matter of household items portraying their image: embroidered pillows, corkscrews, tableware, you name it. The fox is known for being beautiful, quick, crafty and cunning. This time of year, one of the most stunning things to see is a beautiful red fox in the snow.
There is a well known little verse tucked inside the sultry love story of Song of Solomon. Verse 2:15 says, "Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom." Pastors and Bible teachers will often remind us in the middle of a message...be careful of the little foxes that ruin the vine. And it's the truth that this small creature, not much bigger than a rodent can decimate a crop or entire hen house. He will pick off his enemy one by one and go unnoticed, often creeping around at night.
What are the little foxes in our lives? During this time of Lent, we are called to give up something to enter into a more intimate time with the Lord as we prepare to celebrate His death and resurrection. Many people choose to give up sweets or rich foods, others go on a media fast and deactivate their Facebook account for a period. Whatever is a distraction from their relationship with the Lord is set aside for a time.
I believe God honors our times of fasting. We are called to fast and pray many time throughout the Bible. Many prayer warriors credit fasting with revelation and renewal and answer to prayer. But what about the little foxes? What are the little things that creep into our lives and pick at our marriages, our relationships with children and other family members? Who are the little foxes that spoil our time with the Lord throughout the year and interfere with our communion with the Holy Spirit?
These little foxes aren't blatant or obvious. They hide tucked away in friendships, hobbies and even religious activity. I once heard a story about a mother who loved the Lord so much, she spent all her time in church and her family never saw her. Satan loves it when our religious activity erodes our family time. Perhaps it's a friendship that is so consistently negative that we walk away from every conversation feeling torn down and worse about ourselves. Maybe it's our music, movie or television selection - harmless entertainment that picks away at our conscience so that we become desensitized to sex or violence.
During this time of reflection about what the Lord has done for all of us we might consider the little foxes and be vigilant and ask the Lord to help us catch them. Catch them and help us remove them before they take down our vineyards we are so careful to build. How many marriages that were lovingly cultivated might be saved if both husband and wife reflected on the little things that might be tearing them apart? How many families might have an easier time at the dinner table if words were spoken a little more gently and thoughtfully? Which addictions might be conquered if we took notice of the little things that drive us towards them? What might thrive and blossom if finally freed from marauders?
Lord, we rely on you. We ask you to guard our hearts - Your vineyard. Cultivate in us, a love and devotion towards You and the people You love. Find the little foxes, Lord. Show us who and what they are and remove them once and for all. Amen.