Quick! Catch all the little foxes before they ruin the vineyard…(NLT) Song of Songs 2:15 The word for fox in Hebrew is Shual. It was the word used for any wild canine and was probably referring to the jackal. Jackals were abundant and ran in large packs throughout Palestine during Old Testament times attacking livestock or destroying crops.
This scripture was brought to our attention when our son noticed how the numerous tasks we had undertaken were keeping us away from our original purpose. We purchased our property with a mental picture of what we believed God wanted us to accomplish here. These are the short and long term goals we’ve set:
1. Get debt-free and stay debt-free by paying cash for whatever we need.
2. Design and build an unconventional, low budget home ourselves without going into debt.
3. Teach others how to do what we have done through the mediums of art, music, writing and videos.
Our goals have not changed. Although, I must admit, maintaining country property on a limited budget has proven to be both challenging and exhausting. Besides the numerous routine chores that must be done to maintain property, farm animals add a whole new dimension to those already demanding responsibilities. Owning living creatures requires that we provide proper fencing, housing and rations. In addition, animals need special attention when they labor in birth, become entangled or trapped, are injured, get sick, lost, or die.
Because life’s tasks require so much of our time, money and energy we have had to learn to set priorities. There are many activities that serve very good purposes; even so, good purposes can get us off the right track. Chasing after little foxes will keep us from getting to God’s greater purpose—that is, the thing we were meant to do in this life. Accomplishing a god-given vision necessitates a plan of action and learning to recognize priorities; putting main concerns on top of the list.
So, how are we to know our purpose? I’ve noticed that God deposits a seed in each of us which sprouts into an idea that will not go away. Slowly it develops into a vision to do something that will honor God and help others in some way. With proper attention and nurturing this vision can bloom into an undertaking that becomes a labor of love.
Your mission in life is your vineyard; it is the vineyard you must guard carefully. Begin to recognize and separate distractions from what really needs to be done. The little foxes will distract us away from our real purpose so that we will bear little or no fruit for God. The little foxes cause us to neglect what God has put in our charge. And, in time, the dream will die.
Distractions come in many forms. They can be physical or emotional afflictions that sap away our desire to do anything. They can be emotions and thoughts that torment us, filling us with anxiety or fear; which are destructive emotions that kill our joy for life.
Paul warns us in the book of Corinthians that we can’t be fully devoted to God when our devotions are divided. He says“I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. (NLT)
Keep your eyes focused on what God has given you; guard your vision well. Rid yourself of anything that distracts you away from your real purpose. The devil wants to destroy your chances to flourish and succeed; he is out to ruin anything that starts to bloom into an idea for God and will do anything to distract you away from your purpose. He uses the jackals of this world to ruin your vineyard before it has time to bear fruit.
There are a million activities and projects that serve good purposes; but this does not mean we have to become personally involved in every one of them. Some people see a problem and have the know-how and gumption to do something to fix it. These self-motivated, action people don’t wait for others to jump in and help, they just take off running. It becomes a temptation for these personalities to do what needs to be done and put their own projects—their own God-given purposes—on hold for the sake of others.
I am one of these people and this is my advice from years of trial and error. You and I can’t save the world on our own. We are all on borrowed time and we have just so much energy to find and to complete our real purpose in this life.
Time waits for no one. Focus on doing what you love and do it with excellence.