I sat down at the table of retreat leaders feeling flustered and tired. I was a day late arriving, a bad flu bug had nearly kept me from coming at all. What bothered me most is that I didn’t think I should be one of the speakers. So many others were better suited than me to encourage the women attending the retreat.
“We have a lot of little foxes ruining the vineyard,” said one of the leaders, and inwardly I caught my breath. The story I planned to share at the retreat was about a little fox.
The leader went on about the problems and glitches popping up with things just getting underway at the retreat. The fox spoiling the vineyard is an analogy from the Bible. “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards for our vineyards are in blossom,” Song of Solomon 2:15. The Bible considered foxes, or jackals as they were often called, to be destructive animals, (Judges 15:4; Psalm 63:10; Ezekiel 13:4).
What does this mean for my fox story? Should I even share it at all now? I prayed while the retreat leaders talked about the weekend ahead of us.
You are my little fox, I sensed God whispering. You’re your own worst enemy. Stop looking at yourself and look at me. Slow down and listen. Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him, Colossians 3:17.
The retreat went well. I spoke about the little fox, making a point to say what the Bible says about little foxes, they ruin vineyards.
Think about your own vineyard, your home, your marriage, your relationship with God. Are you the little fox ruining your own vineyard?
Often it’s not the devil or someone else messing up our lives. We are very good at creating our own chaos. So many of us are running around like headless chickens, signing our kids up for anything and everything, neglecting our husbands, living for ourselves instead of living for God. We are strung out, wiped out, and out on a limb. Doing too much of the wrong thing and not enough of the right thing.
What is the right thing?
Praying. Daily Bible reading. Asking God to direct our steps.
A few months ago, I wasn’t doing well at letting God direct my steps. I was working way too hard. I thought I would have time for a writing career once all my children were in school. I waited twenty-five years to dive into a career, then jumped in over my head. Some days I felt like I was drowning. My goal was to produce two books a year. To meet this goal, I found myself working day and night, trying to keep up with the kids, new grandbabies, the house, the yard (we have a very big yard), the farm in summertime, and writing often all day long and into the night. It only took two years to get very tired.
Are your tired? Are your feet running in all the wrong directions? We all have twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Most of us freely choose how we spend our time. We pick the sports our kids play. The endless activities our kids do. We decide to make dinner or not make dinner for our families. We make love to our husbands or don’t make love. I realize I’m painting with a broad brush here, but hang with me. Let me get specific. Are you meeting your husband’s needs? Are you putting his wishes above your own? Or do you put the kids first? Your career first? Yourself first? Do you say I’m too tired for sex, he just needs to get over it?
This year, Scott and I have stepped into marriage ministry. I know. On top of everything else, we’ve begun to teach principals to couples that can strengthen their marriages. We’ve been doing this for several years at our weekly Bible study, but now have begun to teach at retreats. We believe this is important, so we are trying to make room for it in our lives. We have found there are some very basic needs that aren’t being met in people’s marriages. One of these needs is intimacy.
“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife. Do not deprive one another, except by mutual consent for a limited time, so you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again, so that Satan will not tempt you through your lack of self-control,” 1 Corinthians 7:4.
The temptation is for people to look for intimacy, affection, and sex outside of their marriages because they aren’t getting enough of it in their marriages. It’s not just emotional or physical affairs that are destroying couples today. People are addicted to television, Facebook, Twitter. They’re taking their iPhones to bed. Social media or whatever else you do on your phone has become more interesting than your marriage or your walk with the Lord.
The real problem isn’t neglecting our husbands or wives. The real problem is neglecting the word of God. If God isn’t directing your steps, you are, your iPhone, iPad, or computer is controlling you, or the devil is leading you astray. Years ago, I heard a priest say, “the devil doesn’t need to make you bad, he just needs to keep you busy.”
Are you too busy? Too tired? Too attached to your iPhone to connect with God? Your spouse? Even your kids, though you drive them all over kingdom come for all their activities? Are you a little fox ruining your own vineyard? Don’t be that little fox who destroys her own vineyard. Dig into the word of God and do what it says. You have power over your life. Take care of your own vineyard. Listen to God and make the changes you need to make.