Catch the Foxes

Growing up, we hunted a lot of gophers.  I suppose some people would be upset that we  killed harmless little animals, and the truth is, one little gopher doesn’t do a lot of damage. But in the  environment of a pasture, the hundreds of gophers that proliferate unchecked will eat a pasture down to nothing.

As I read Song of Songs 2:15, I couldn’t help thinking of this principle in my own life.

Catch all the foxes, those little foxes , before they ruin our vineyard, for the grapevines are blossoming! 

Song of Songs is a love letter, but the truth in this verse applies to any relationship, or even our spiritual lives.

When something produces fruit, there will always be things that come to eat it.  It might be attitudes, perhaps distractions that keep us from connecting with Jesus and each other in a healthy, meaningful way.  It may be something stymying the development of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

I desire to walk in intimacy with my husband, my close friends, and most importantly with Jesus.  I know the fruit when these relationships grow is profound, and something I want.  But so often I leave the foxes in the vineyard of my life unchecked until they have already stolen a good deal of fruit.

When a fox raids the hen house, the loss of chickens/eggs incites immediate action, yet I am often much slower to act when it comes to catching foxes in the unseen realm that devastate the fruit of abundant life Jesus calls me to.

For me habits and patterns are a big fox.  Attitudes and perspectives are two more I need to watch to safeguard the fruit in my spiritual life and relationships. Taking time for discernment and good questions is critical to even see the foxes that so easily hide in the often crowded vineyard of life.

The Holy Spirit proves extremely committed to helping see and catch the foxes; without His help, they are elusive and hard to grasp!

1 Peter tells us the enemy prowls like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  I have found this to be true, but sometimes both the enemy and our own weakness come in the form of little “harmless” foxes that weasel away the fruit right before our eyes.

Time can be an ally or a relentless slave driver and I am learning why.  You cannot return time to its former place, rather, we are instructed to redeem the time because the days are evil.  (Ephesians 5:16)

The time to catch foxes is when the fruit is still in the blossom stage.  If we wait until later in the season, the best of the fruit will be lost, and we are caught on the defensive, trying to save what is left.

What are the foxes in your life that keep you from the productivity Jesus has called you to?  In this lent season, may the Holy Spirit show you the best way to catch them now!

Disappointed?

A few days ago, we experienced the heart wrenching disappointment of when some one you care about and have walked alongside is taken out when they seemed to be gaining victory.  My mind immediately asked Jesus where He was in the situation.  I ache for their pain, and wonder what more we could have done to support them.

It appears the pieces that were coming together have shattered into a million irreconcilable splinters, and the work God was doing, undone in one fell swoop.  I began asking Jesus how to respond.

I realize I cannot save anyone; the pertinent question for me is: ‘where does my faith lie when things fall apart?’  What I do with disappointment determines how I interact with and see God and how I display His faithfulness towards others.

I must remember my vantage point offers such a limited view of of the overall picture God sees in each life and circumstance (including mine).

Looking at the history of God’s people, I realize He is no stranger to sorrow and disappointment at the choices and actions of others.  There is no one who more faithfully walks alongside than God Himself.  Duet 32 says:

The people of Israel belong to the Lord.  He found them in a desert land, He surrounded them and watched over them; He guarded them as the apple of His eye… He nourished them with honey from the rock and olive oil from the stony ground. 

Even so, Israel fell over and over and God continually reached out, offering not only forgiveness in response to repentance, but also restoration and blessing if they turned back to Him.  (Isaiah 55:6-9).

Sometimes the person who falls and causes the grief and disappointment is me.  Even having tasted so often, the faithfulness and provision of God, I have found myself overwhelmed by circumstance, and rather than standing firm on His promises, turned to another source of help or comfort instead.

I can only imagine the sorrow Jesus must have felt knowing Judas, after walking intimately together for three years, would betray Him.  Yet Judas was the only disciple Jesus called “friend” and Jesus did not waver in His mission or His trust in the Father.

I realize I must develop the viewpoint of Jesus when it comes to the disappointments of life.  In the moment when all His disciples deserted Him, leaving Him alone to face the condemnation of Israel and the crucifixion of Rome, Jesus knew God was not finished with this rugged bunch of men.  His faith that God would yet turn them into the builders of the foundation of the Church was immovable and His grace and redeeming power encompassed and empowered them to rise again.

To dwell in disappointment takes the focus off the Redeemer.  There is no fall Jesus can’t raise a person from, and His thoughts and ways are so much higher than mine.

So I will pray for and love my friend, and I will place my trust and hope for their story back where it always belonged.  In Jesus!

In Light Of The Resurrection

Lent is full of wonder for me.  Anticipation of the miraculous shrouds the season.  I have always loved Easter Sunday.  Rising early, I would stand at the crest of the eastern hill behind the barn.  Had Jesus walked out to meet me from the sunrise, I would not have been surprised. After the anguish of the cross, I could almost feel Mary’s exultation when she realized it was the risen Jesus who spoke to her!

As we count down the weeks to Easter, the life in my womb moves and grows and the weight of a baby due Easter Sunday  is not lost on my heart.  On an Easter Sunday Jesus filled me with His resurrection power and removed the pathogenic diseases that were taking my life and shutting my body down.  Three years later, a body that was as good as dead is bringing forth life in the same miraculous resurrection power.

I live in the reality of the resurrection.

Martha too was asked to see life in light of The Resurrection.  Her brother had died, and Jesus, arriving late, said;

“I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die.  Everyone who LIVES in me and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this Martha? (John 11:25)

Death, sorrow and the stark reality of suffering stared Martha and me in the face.  To both of us, Jesus posed the question: Will you believe in me even in the face of death?

In light of the resurrection, the impossible becomes reality. The miraculous power of God, at work in our life, awaits us beyond the surrender and crucifixion of the old nature.

In light of the resurrection, hope rises where the burial clothes of relinquished dreams and disappointed hopes shroud the vision God gave in the spring of life. Purpose fills up the grave, dug one day at a time with the trowel of “delay” and “not yet.”

In light of the resurrection, broken families, shattered hearts, and wounded souls are brought into the light where all things can be made new, and power to restore and heal is released.

In light of the resurrection, strength and passion of youth and the thrill of God’s hand at work are tempered into awe filled humility that reflects back to Jesus all glory and honour.

Where do you find yourself this Lent?  I pray you look to the cross where blood stains the ground and covers every sin.  Linger until the old and unregenerate are dead. But don’t stay there – look beyond to the garden where the power to bring new life comes after the severing of the old.  Let it be the light of resurrection power that illuminates the steps ahead.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! (1 Peter 1:3)

Stay Hungry!

Have you ever had a season where you felt like your desire for God’s Word was dry and the time spent in it, largely unproductive?  I have.

When Jesus told His disciples He would be killed and then rise again three days later, the gospels tell us that:

They didn’t understand any of this; the significance was hidden and they failed to grasp what He was talking about.  

Just before this, Jesus had told them:

You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven, but others are not.  To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given and they will have an abundance of knowledge, but those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. (Matt 13:11)

We too live in the tension of mystery to be sought out and uncovered and a lack of understanding that can only be removed by the Spirit of God.

The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I become aware of His increasing gift of revelation to the hungry.  The more we consume the Word of God under the guidance of the Spirit, the deeper the revelation of Kingdom secrets uncovered, the more we hunger for the deeper things of God.

Matthew says:

Keep on asking and you’ll receive what you ask for, keep on seeking and you’ll find.  To everyone who knocks the door will be open. (Matt 7:7)

Jesus promises the Spirit He sends will teach His followers and remind them of His words.  To uncover the treasure we seek requires a perseverance in asking; even when it seems there is nothing new to understand.

When there is no water at a certain water table level, one must drill down deeper to find the life-giving fluid they seek.  It is when we give up and stop digging that our thirst becomes life threatening, and eventually one doesn’t even feel the thirst that is sapping vitality and life.

There is no condemnation for dry seasons or for lack of understanding, but there is great loss when we feel satiated and stop pursuing the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven and the King who invites us to uncover them.

Jesus told His followers that He was the bread of life and the living water; unless they drank of His blood and ate of His flesh, they had no part in Him.

In contrast to physical hunger, in constantly coming back to Jesus and His word for our nourishment a greater hunger develops and more is given.  The less I hunger, the more I need the nourishment of the Body and Word of my Saviour!

Are you in a season of banqueting?  Pray God gives more and more hunger to take it all in!

Are you in a season of dryness where it seems the Living Word has gone stagnant? Pray for hunger, asking the Holy Spirit to show you how to dig down to a deeper water table to find life!