Thursday, February 10, 2011

Catch the Foxes

Cute foxes, eh? Unless, of course you are the owner of a vineyard. Foxes have a nasty record of slipping into the fields at night and nibbling on the tender shoots, gobbling up the plump grapes, and sometimes destroying century old vines. Argh, those cute little foxes!

What are the foxes in your life? What is eating away at your marriage? What is nibbling away at your friendships? What is destroying the good and beautiful and true and free in your home?

The greatest song of the Hebrew Scriptures is attributed to a young king named Solomon. He discovers in one of his vast vineyards a beautiful woman. She is brown from the sun, dirty fingernails, windtangled hair, and to Solomon she is the great desire of his life. Together they write a poem about their surging and tender love for each other as they prepare for marriage. Their song has became THE song for Jewish men and women coming together as husband and wife.

Have you ever read the Song of Songs? You should. Here's some of it:
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.

How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes are doves.

How handsome you are, my beloved!
Oh, how charming!
And our bed is verdant.

I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.

Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the young women.

Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.

See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.

Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.

Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom.

My beloved is mine and I am his;
he browses among the lilies.
Until the day breaks and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag on the rugged hills.

This poetry is sexual, sensual, dramatic, personal, playful, and enduring.  It's a vivid image of what love can look like between a husband and wife. And it's necessary to see, amidst the longing and desire the observation of the woman to the man: catch the foxes.

Foxes sneak into the home and hearts of a family and do their dark work of destruction. They nibble and break and wreck. The owners of the vineyard not only must work to catch the foxes (an unending task...), but they must also repair and restore the damage done to the vines.

A husband and wife will always have more work to do on their life together - the foxes come and go and do their damage, and there will always be wounds that need healed. Of course you must attempt to catch the foxes! Vigilance and protection are necessary and ongoing. But what do you do when the foxes still break through?

It's common to get tired of always fixing hearts in a home. How many times can you handle hearing the word "sorry?" How many times must you forgive for the same offense? Seven times? And what do you do when you discover you were the fox? There is always more work to do within yourself and in your home to repent, repair, restore and renew the damage of the foxes. You must find the energy to work to catch the foxes. And when you don't, you must turn around and tend to the wreckage.

What are some of the foxes that sneak in and ruin the good in your heart and home?
Your anger.
Your lust.
Your expectations.
Your pride.
Your busyness.
Your silence.
Your greed and envy and coveting.
Your fears.

Foxes are hard to catch. But the damage becomes obvious with the morning light. When you discover that the foxes have been at work in your home and heart, you must get to work. Immediately.

And what work would that be?

Love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast, it is not proud.
Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.

Love. never. fails.

Catch the Foxes!

1 comment:

Carla Sue said...

I greatly enjoyed this sermon form AND blog form. Always a great reminder!