Catch for us the foxes: my address to my daughter’s husband

As I have been reading through Bryleigh’s Bible, it has brought me to the Song of Songs. I have been very interested to see what this time and entanglement will bring for my heart as I address her in writing regarding a book that Jewish boys were not allowed to read until they became men.

Today, I read chapter 2 and came across verse 15. The bride says to her lover, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards while our vineyards are in blossom.”

As The Song can be applied to both our relationship as a bride to our bridegroom, Jesus Christ, it can also be applied to the true love relationship we have with our spouse.

These foxes are any of those things which keep us from Jesus and the life He intends for us. Catch the foxes! Remove the foxes! They must be caught and removed from your relationship with God.

But they ALSO must be caught and removed from your relationship with your spouse. This is an address to husbands! Catch the foxes! Remove the foxes. They must be caught and removed. The good marriage relationship will be one in which you both, but especially the man, DOES the work of catching any foxes which hinder your relationship and your marriage.

I wrote this in the margin of Bryleigh’s Bible, and it has stuck with me all day: “If your husband is unwilling to do this sort of work, I doubt his love for you.”

So many men are willing to work hard to make money for the family. They are willing to protect their wife from physical harm. I have known countless men who are unwilling to do the work of catching the foxes for their marriage and their family when it comes to the actual relationship. This will require work; uncomfortable work. Your hardest day of work may not compare to the hard work you will do in addressing those things which hinder your relationship and harm your wife to a far deeper place than any physical harm would bring to her. But if you truly love your wife and your family, you must catch the foxes! You must remove the foxes.

If you are unwilling to do this, I question your love for your wife.

Every Christian must fight

fight

There is a reason we are given the imagery of armor in preparation for the life before God in Ephesians 6. This imagery is used because our life is a fight. It is a constant fight against the things which keep us from getting to God. Closeness to God is our ultimate good as indicated in Psalm 73, but our life is always full of things which prevent us from that ultimate good of closeness. Those things never cease to present themselves each day. They must be fought and laid aside so we may continue to come closer to God.

This is why Ephesians 6 gives us a whole and complete armor for our daily fight. Every day we are to prayerfully and intentionally put on this armor that we might fight back all those things which prevent us from getting to God.

The life of the follower of Jesus is anything but lazy. The life after Jesus is a fight, and if we fight correctly each day it will only be done with the strength of Jesus Christ found in intentional prayer.

Missing God

Our world is saturated with the Holy. It is full of God’s presence. God’s presence are the very waters we swim in each day, and yet every day and every week I can close each one having completely missed Him.

When we realize the truth of Ephesians 4:6 that is over all, through all, and in all, there becomes a saddening reality on our part. We realize God is present everywhere, and we still miss Him entirely in the course of a day or a week.

We need what Richard Foster calls prayer of examen of consciousness. We need to recognize what Erwin McManus calls divine moments in need of seizing. We need with Brother Lawrence to practice the presence of God.

Each day is full of God’s presence, and my mind and heart need to be attentive to His presence. I need to ‘prayerfully reflect on the thoughts, feelings, and actions of my days to see how God has been at work among me and how I respond’ to those moments.

Each day is my opportunity to be present where I am. God invites me to see and hear and respond to what is around me, and through it all, to discern the footprints of God.

What may God be doing in and through my kids today? What may God be inviting me into through the neighbor, the barista, the homeless man I come across today? What may God be teaching me or forming in me through the loss of a job, the loss of a love one, a confusing circumstance, or a relational altercation?

These are all divine moments when heaven invades earth. More specifically, these are all moments Heaven invades my world today.

I only pray and ask that I have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Avoid the slow leak

leak
When you have a slow leak, it may go unrecognized until it is too late. All the necessary fluids are leaked out until seizing breakage happens.

This is the nature of our relationship and connection with the Father. Oswald “Ozzie” Chambers writes, “spiritual leakage begins when we cease to lift our eyes unto Him.” We can allow this leak to continue over the course of days and weeks until life brings about that seizing breaking moment. Suddenly our lack of care to look to God with routine has caused our greatest breakdown. “Only when God brings you to a sudden halt will you recognize how you have been losing out [all along].”

When you look at your heart and life, is there already a slow leak beginning in your routine connection and entanglement with the heart of God? Do not wait for the screeching halt and ultimate break down to care for that slow leak. It will be too late by that time. You will have to only take on the bigger cost of repairing the broke down heart that could have been cared for with ongoing routine maintenance of the heart.

Doing without the gospel

gift
Once I come face to face with the real gospel of Jesus, it will well up within me either of great appreciation or joy or a rebellion and resentment. Many of us, particularly many Americans, resent a vital part of the gospel, namely the giftedness of it. Once many are face to face with the fact they have to accept a gift rather than give and give and give of their earning efforts, we are resentful of the gospel.

The gospel makes clear we are “justified as a GIFT by His GRACE through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ” (Rom. 3:24). Oswald Chambers writes, “We cannot earn or win anything from God; we must either receive it as a gift or do without it.”

Here is a stark challenge to the way many of us try to understand the gospel. If you are not receiving it as a gift and trying to work for it with all your own efforts, you are missing it. If you are trying to work and earn God’s love, you are choosing to do without it.

It is gift and it is to be received. It does not require your giving or your work. It is selfish pride just as much for me to refuse a gift, because even in that refusal I make way more of myself and less of God.

4 Things on God’s distance and absence

distance
There are moments in every honest believer’s journey when God seems distant. It can be hard to sort out. Sometimes knowing with your mind God is omnipresent makes the sense of his absence all the more painful.

Those moments it feels as though your prayers bounce off the ceiling and walls only to return to you, we lose touch with the sense of God’s intimate tenderness as we once knew. These are moments and periods of time when we ought to know a few things.

1. Every honest believer has known this place.
Every believer has or will come to a point when God feels absent or distant at best. It is important off-the-bat to know you are not alone.

2. Do not assume you made this happen.
Do not assume you have done something wrong to drive God away. While our sin does separate us from God, that is not always the reason for this distance. There are times when the experience of distance is simply part of the experience of limited beings attempting intimate connection with a limitless God.

3. God has the freedom to come and go.
What kind of god would you have created who answers your every beck and call? What limited god would you have created who only comes and goes as you wish? If God appears at your beck and call, it is not likely the Biblical God you are relating to. God will not be formed in our image. He is free to come and go at His will; not yours.

4. The experience of absence is not the absence of experience
What might God be doing with you in this time? St. John of the Cross wrote about this part of our journey, calling it “The Dark Night of the Soul”. He says there are two “purifiers” at play during this time. One, you are learning not to depend on external things as proof of God’s presence. We can move further within ourselves to know the truer senses of spiritual connection. The second purifier is stripping us of our interior dependence. We are forced to challenge what we really believe about the character of God. Is God truly good and loving? What things have I created in my own image to demand God to do in order for me to believe he is good or loving? These times of feeling absent or distant make me truly realize God does not have to fit in my limited understanding of goodness and love.

I am forced to let go of my stipulations and come to know the God whose love is a reckless raging fury I cannot form as I wish. Then, I can finally let go and trust.

Sit still in the presence

affectheartmind
Today, God, I want your Word to affect both my mind and my heart. I need to know your tenderness, your intimacy, and your love in a way that I have not known it in some time. I will soak up your Word today. Please help my heart understand. Speak to my heart and may I come to know you more?

“and though you have not seen Him, YOU LOVE HIM, and though you do not see Him now, you BELIEVE in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” -1 Peter 1:8-9

I greatly desire my heart to know the joy of salvation my mind knows it is. My soul is saved, and my mind knows the good news of the reality, but my heart does not often sit and rest with the very good news that this truly is for my soul eternal. God, help my heart rejoice today. I want to love you more.

Help my heart today. Give me a heart of flesh to replace the bits of built up stone.