The Vine Spoilers

by Robin Farnsworth

Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom. Song of Solomon 2:15 ESV

“It’s my fault,” my husband admitted as we scooped the garbage into a new bag. “I should’ve put a lid on it.” He said it’s squirrels, but I liked to think something a bit more menacing could cause such a mess, like a Gruffalo—that fictional animal with large teeth and horns. Whatever it was had a big, bad party in the back yard and didn’t clean up. I like to picture the creatures hiding in the trees, paws covering their dirty snouts and chuckling while we schlop their mess back into the can.

Life is full of loose ends, like a giant junk drawer. I think it should be, that a life that’s too pulled together is dangerously aseptic. It’s like the Good Bacteria/Bad Bacteria theory that explains the explosion of super-bugs. We need to be a little dirty. God ordained it. When life gets too spick-and-span, it becomes something incompatible with life on earth. Sterile and phobic, we close the glass trophy door behind us and watch the world go by.

But the other end of that spectrum is the junk drawer that morphs into a junk house. I remember looking at hoarding pictures snapped by a rescue team that extricated a woman from the only space left in her dwelling. Piles of papers, dishes, boxes and broken lamps covered what was once a home. She had been consumed by her own mess.

Somewhere in-between lies sanity.

I’ve thought along these lines lately, reflecting on some of my own near misses, where vanity and self-interest have collided with truth. Many years ago, as a new believer, I became offended by something my pastor said and decided to go out on strike. I’ll show them.

One week went by, two, three… Then, around week four, as the phone stayed eerily quiet, and the mess from my pity-party was starting to stink, the Holy Spirit spoke these words: My kingdom goes on, with you or without you.

Ouch.

I have never missed church since. Was I right to be offended? Maybe. But my rights pale in the light of the cross, don’t they? God’s scorching rebuke saved me from derailing and also taught me a lot about my place in His kingdom. It’s not my right, it’s my privilege.

The little foxes will nip right at the root of our salvation. God is nurturing and training our crazy branches into something beautiful and even fruitful; then a little critter called Offense, or Jealousy or Resentment begins to gnaw at the tender vine.

Jesus said He had to go home to heaven so that He could send us all some help. He must’ve known we’d need it. And the Holy Spirit is the Helper. He wants to help us grow and learn and start to teach others. Some dirt, a seed, then water. And lots of light.

My theory is that most hoarders knew at one time they should just get rid of stuff, that the stuff they held was beginning to hold them. But they refused. And the slow death began.

 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 ESV

Or sometimes he dresses up like a cute little fox. The point is let’s be watchful, with hearts turned towards the light and ears towards heaven. I don’t want to be an old trophy. I want to be just one of God’s beautiful crazy branches that Jesus delights in, with fruit that bears His glorious name.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Robin Farnsworth is an award-winning author and speaker. She and her husband Calvin live on Cape Cod, where they run Higher Ground Outreach, a Christian non-profit for incarcerated men and women.

On duty as an ER nurse in 2002, Farnsworth identified her son, Spencer, minutes after he was pronounced dead. He was the unintended target of a murder. So begins her memoir, The Greater Weight of Glory, an extraordinary journey that explores the power of faith and forgiveness with true candor and courage. Website and blog: http://www.spencersmom.com

Join the conversation: Are you struggling with offense, jealousy, or resentment?

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