“Catch us the foxes,
The little foxes that spoil the vines,
For our vines have tender grapes.”
~Song of Solomon 2:15
God gives. . . and the little foxes come to destroy
to destroy the vine He has grown me to,
and from the flourishing He has wrought,
the fruit, the tender fruit
needing to grow and bear the seed
of what God has given. . .
Fall in our Tennessee mountain home for the last 32 years has rushed in for two week 70-something degrees stays. The leaves then all drop themselves to the ground in surprise, and suddenly winter is here. . ., but not this year. This year Autumn came right on time, September 21 – and lingered, sat long and talked much, revealed its deepness and brilliance, and the leaves, comforted by the long stay, savored the time to become at a more leisurely pace, colored more beautifully and held on longer than I’ve seen – and when the leaves released to fall this year, it’s been like watching the graceful curtesy of a fulfilled dancer. Lovely. Unusual. This Tennessee Fall makes me wonder what God’s up to!
God has given lavishly – encouragement, moments of love – with people, within books, within His word, and within prayer. . . yet the little foxes’ feet crept forward, circling, seeking to tear the vines God has grown with me, to bruise the fruit that it may drop and wither. It’s a dichotomy to the soul. God gives blessings designed to uplift the soul. Satan sends the foxes to tear the vine, to stop the soul’s flourishing, to prevent it from planting gospel seed because if it can dishearten one of God’s children, then it can possibly stop one of God’s children from sharing God’s message of His love, redemption and salvation.
The challenge of the dichotomy – giving ourselves permission to live joy as children of God – or choosing to live sorrow because, in the midst of God’s abundant love, of prayers sent out, the little foxes tear at the vines of ourselves with challenges that we cannot solve but that try our hearts in uncomfortable ways – uncomfortable in so many various ways that tempt to turn away from the blessings. Should the blessings be pushed away until the uncomfortable is sorted out? Until the soul feels cleaner, more worthy, less full of challenges? Should the soul embrace the joy God offers (the choice to accept is ours) when all is not as we think it should be, hoped it would be?
Yes, in the lavish blessing of this Tennessee Fall, I have grappled with this dichotomy on how to accept God’s goodness with joy when the challenges hurt, either me or those in my family, my community, my country.
“What should she do? Her question was not a cry of despair but a genuine and honest wish to know. . . She never knew what put it into her head that she, unloved, should love. Religion for her parents, and therefore for their children, was not much more than a formality and it had not occurred to her to pray about her problem, and yet from somewhere the idea came as though in answer to her question. . . Could mere loving be a life’s work? Could it be a career like marriage or nursing the sick or going on the stage? Could it be an adventure? Christians were commanded to love, it was something laid upon them that they had to do whether they liked it or not. They had to love, as a wife had to obey her husband and an actress had to speak her lines when the curtain rose. . . But what was love? . . .Making a start with the cat, was it possible to make of this concern and identification a deliberate activity that should pass out in the widening circles, to her parents and the servants and the brothers and sisters and their families, to the city and its people, the Cathedral, even at last perhaps to God Himself? It came to her in a flash that it must be wonderful to hold God and be held by Him, as she held the cat in her arms. . . So she took a vow to love. . . ” ~ Elizabeth Goudge, The Dean’s Watch
Goudge’s character, Mary Montague, took a vow to love – despite the little foxes that sought to spoil the vines of herself that hadn’t even hardly sprouted. The little foxes were the disappointments from the realization of dreams that wouldn’t be walked out to how those who should have loved her didn’t, to looking at a lifetime out of making a rich, full life out of seemingly nothing – nothing but all God had to offer. . . and that offer started with love. Life hurt Mary. Despite that hurt, that she didn’t really even understand and know love, she chose to love. She trusted God to teach her, though she only knew Him through religion and not relationship.
“At some point along with way, she did not know where because the change came so slowly and gradually, she realized that He had got her and got everything. . . . She could not take her eyes from the incredible glory of His love. As far as it was possible for a human being in this world she had turned from herself. She could say, ‘”I have been turned.'” ~ Elizabeth Goudge, The Dean’s Watch.
She turned away from hoping for love for herself, for dreams fulfilled for herself to loving others selflessly – wanting no self-gain, no self-comfort, no self-fulfillment, no expectation of returned love or affection. Instead of starving as a life-taker – expecting others to do for her, she did for them, andin the process, live fulfilled as a life-giver.
I’ve spent a lot of time through the summer into the cold season with Goudge, and she has been just what I needed. From Island Magic into Green Dolpin Street to The White Horse to The Dean’s Watch, she has shown me how to slow down, to breath in faith and exhale assurance. Salvation. Redemption. Lost footings firmly finding solid ground by giving love instead of expecting others to give it to me either first or in return. . . and this. . . when the little foxes come to tear at the vines of myself, to trust, to pray, to continue to choose to love the way He taught us. The little foxes might still come prowling about, but this choice to love overcomes my inward struggles, and, yes, the little foxes.
God has given blessings – the blessing of my husband, the blessing of all who walk through my porch door, a plate of scones shared, grandchildren making merry in a pile of leaves, little hands helping pull out tomato vines and learning to savor a chocolate mint leaf from the garden. A letting go breakthrough in one heart-wrestle and God’s whispered reminder to choose love when the hard moments come. . . to turn from all the feelings of self, as Goudge describes to selflessly, fully, richly love. . . and in richly loving give myself permission to accept the joy of the simple blessings He brings in the daily.
God gives, and I turn
from self to Him
despite the little foxes’ feet
seeking to tear
the vine of myself
the fruit remaining unbruised
my heart turned to Him,
love grew intertwined
Remember Me Monday: #83 & Link-up
“I’ll make a list of God’s gracious dealings,
all the things God has done that need praising,
All the generous bounties of God,
his great goodness to the family of Israel—
. love extravagant.”
~ Isaiah 63:7, The Message
In the Old Testament, God repeatedly, quietly and loudly, tells his children, “You have forgotten me!” (Jeremiah 3:32, Ezekiel 22:12, to name a few). It’s a heart cry from a father to a child who has forgotten all the love, all the saving, helping, little and big blessings – and it leaves me stunned when I realize our Father, the creator of the universe, who knows things I cannot begin to fathom, who authors storylines that leave me amazed, delights in all of us so much, He cries out, “Remember Me.”
While every day is a Remember God Day, I am inviting you to join me on Monday mornings to come by and remember what God has done for you, for your family. Maybe God sent a cardinal darting out in front of you, as if to tell you, “I’m here,” or broke a child’s fever after you laid it all down at His feet in a 2 a.m. bedside vigil. Maybe He stood with you in the wait of a prayer sent out, or brought someone you loved to Christ. Maybe He healed your broken heart, gave your courage, or you gave Him your dreams as a love offering only to have Him give them back in an unimaginable way. Maybe God helped you survive to bedtime after a crazy Monday, or forgive yourself for missing it with your kiddos –– Whatever it is, let’s Remember Him. . . in a “Remember Me Monday” love letter.
“My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
Of your salvation all the day long,
Though I know not its measure.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord”
~ Psalm 71:15-16.
Let us delight in Him by telling the stories of what He’s done! If you wrote a blog post remembering what He’s done for you, join the linky. If you didn’t but still want to praise Him for what He’s done – write it in the comment section. Then visit a comment before or after yours! One of the beautiful things about the blogging community is the relationships it builds!
Rules? Write long or short, a list or a story, include photos or not. Just Remember Him and what He has done, and let the gratitude of your heart guide you. Let’s make Monday so Rejoice, that the goodness of God spills into the rest of the week!
Places I’m Linking at This Week:
Inspire Me Monday, Instaencouragements,
Legacy Link-Up, Recharge Wednesday
Faith on Fire, Tell His Story, Grace&Truth
Let’s Have Coffee Wednesday Celebrate Your Story
Scripture&Snapshot, Sunday Scripture Blessings
Sweet Tea & Friends Monthly Link-up