The grass in our garden had been deteriorating over a long time until we finally ended up with more weeds and bare patches than grass. So, last year we had it all scraped up and a new lawn laid. A big job, a lot of mess, but worth it when we saw the vibrant green, healthy turf. My husband, especially, was really pleased, and took delight in looking after it.
But over recent weeks, frustration set in as holes mysteriously began to appear overnight. Neighbours and Google told us foxes were the culprits, loving the new lawn, which apparently gives them ideal conditions for digging up earthworms and grubs, and for their cubs to practise their digging skills!
My husband began earnestly researching deterrents and discovered that, first, you mustn’t put anything out that they might see as food, and second, you have to make them feel nervous and uncomfortable in your garden to discourage them from hanging around to dig. One suggestion was steeping garlic in boiling water and spraying it over the lawn! Thankfully, he took the garlic and the kettle outside to mix it up! And thankfully it seems to be working and the foxes seem to have stopped coming.
This whole episode set me thinking: the Bible talks about our lives being restored like beautiful gardens giving glory to our God (Isaiah 58:11). Until we come to Jesus those ‘gardens’ are like our tired, infected, worn out grass, desperately in need of a fresh new covering and a fresh new start. Paying the ultimate price, Jesus won that for us. When we come to Him in repentance, we’re washed clean and covered with His perfect robe of righteousness.
By His grace and mercy, we have that fresh new start, but as our verse for today tells us, there’s an affinity between the garden of our lives and ‘foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards.’ The foxes are sin. We’re attracted to sin, perhaps not so much in terms of what we might see as ‘big sins’ like murder, torture, child abuse etc., but what about judging, gossiping, impatience, snapping … and sins of omission: not showing kindness, not being forthcoming with truth. The list is endless. Foxes are foxes, sin is sin. It spoils the garden, robs us and prevents us giving glory to our God.
I don’t know about you, but I recognise little foxes in my life, and it’s serious. As Genesis 4:7 tells us, ‘If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at our door; it desires to have you.’ But then comes our loving Father’s firm command, ‘You must rule over sin.’
How do we do that? How do we ‘catch the foxes’? It took effort for my husband to research and then make the turf unattractive to foxes. It takes integrity and determination to deal with the ‘foxes’ in our ‘gardens’. We can’t be half-hearted.
So, let’s be real: do you want to catch the ‘foxes’? And let’s be encouraged: We should and we can have that steadfast resolve, because Jesus has mercifully, already won the victory for us. He has sent His Holy Spirit to help and enable us to ‘count ourselves dead to sin … not let it reign in our bodies so that we obey its desires’ (Romans 6:11-12), not give in to the temptation to sin, not feed the foxes, but starve them.
And we don’t have to trawl the internet to find out how to deter them either. Our Father has already given us the recipe for the mixture that repels the sin-life, ‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise’ (Philippians 4:8).
Let’s determine together today, to rule over sin, to catch the little foxes, so that we’re not spoilt, but flourish ‘like a well-watered garden’ giving glory to our Father God in Heaven.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am sorry for allowing the little foxes (you might like to mention anything specific) to spoil the garden of my life. Please help me to count myself dead to sin, to resist the temptation to the sin(s) I know I have succumbed to, and in true repentance to take my thoughts captive and focus on the true, the right, the pure and lovely, so that I will flourish and give glory to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.