Catch the little foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vine, for our vines have tender grapes.- Solomon 2:15
I was switching the wash a couple Mondays ago when out tumbled two pawns from a chess set into the bottom of my washer.
Clink, clink….my heart sank. You have to be kidding me, not again! This time from the church.
It seems Bennett has bestowed upon himself the power of the five finger discount in the past few months. Don’t mind if he do….
The most frustrating irony is he isn’t stealing anything of great value. I mean if you are gonna steal…let’s get something of value here! (is joke) It’s just junky trinkets that line the edge of pockets and sticky little palms.
To make matters worse he is continually shoving little doo-dads from our house into his book bag or pockets and bringing them to school. He’s gotten in trouble for it a few times this year and yet and yet….his little mitts the next day swipe another Lego guy, a rock, or rubber band and in it goes into the pouch of his back pack.
To make matters the MOST worst. He lies about it. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. WITHOUT. BATTING. AN. EYE.
That, my friends, about does me in. These are heart issues and although “mad” usually happens first with me, “sad” is quick to follow. I mean today it’s plastic beads, what’s next? Gum at the grocery store and in no time grand theft auto?? The plastic bear is his gateway drug into a life of criminal activity I just know it!!!
In all seriousness my mind goes there and I have to metaphorically slap myself across the face and get it together. Bennett is a GREAT kid whose making incredibly dumb, selfish and carnal decisions. He’s always been impulsive. Do first, think later. Somewhere under the blood of Jesus He will use that for something glorious. Right now it is his achilles heel. Total shocker…my kids aren’t perfect.
I mean it’s CRAP! Dumb plastic nothingness but it holds incredible significance. Trust has been broken in a big way. We have hit the red button alert to crack down on him at every turn. It stinks… I literally pat him down every morning and open up his book bag and inspect it. He has to write page after page of lines in a legal pad with verses about stealing. He had to write to our church an admittance letter for stealing the chess pieces and hand it to an elder and apologize in person. Nope…not enough to deter the behavior.
We walked into the school yesterday with the first two beads I found and he had to apologize to the teacher. He cried, I cried, it was awkward, I was sad, he wouldn’t ask for forgiveness and complete the circle……so we had to move on to writing a letter last night and searching the house for the rest of his loot.
This was my morning today. He’s been lying since about the beginning of the school year about getting to pick out of the teachers “treasure box” for good behavior (choke that ironic lie down why don’t ya) and so he has been bringing home these pop beads and teddy bears consistently the last month. ALL STOLEN, snuck home and lied about. “Treasure box” indeed.
My heart is so sad. I held him in my arms today and we talked about the word integrity and character and what it means to be a man of your word and be trustworthy. We prayed together. It felt like one of those moments you really penetrate into their skulls and awaken them to kingdom truths.
We walked to the car to drive to school (after his pat down of course). He hops in the back row and stupidly draws attention to himself by saying “I want to see what you packed me for lunch today.”
I’m grunting getting Rhett wrangled into his seat and buckled in. “Why do you want to know? Please don’t pull everything out of your back pack I can tell you what I made you.”
Blink, blink his doe eyes went and then I saw it. His bawled up fist trying to scoot the zipper open.
“Bennet please don’t tell me that you are trying to sneak a toy in your bag you found in the car.” FOR THE LOVE….please tell me your hand is empty!!!!
drum roll please….
“No I’m NOT!!!” (he is a rotten liar praise God!)
I reach back and pry his hand open freeing up the Lego guy that was about to be smuggled to school. My indignant expression rivaling his guilty one.
RIGHT AFTER OUR FREAKING PRAYER TIME. I wanted to laugh and cry all at once. What is going through his six year old mind is beyond me. I was dumbfounded. I had to pull the ole “I’m going to talk to daddy about what we are going to do about this.” I knew my flesh would totally rule over sound parenting in that moment.
It was an awkward seven minute ride to school as he hid behind his backpack every time I looked in the rear view mirror.
Remorse? I hope so. Mad he was caught? Probably.
And so we are here. This is life with us. Our imperfect kingdoms crashing into one another. The bending of wills and the shaping of character. I don’t think Lyle the Kindly Viking is having the impact I was hoping for in his toddler years. We’ve left the Veggie Tales world of raising children and now we are getting into the weeds of character building and I need to get on my discipleship A game with this kid.
I’ve spend a lot of time reading commentaries about the verse I put at the top.There are SO many takes on what Solomon is referring to in this passage. Are the grapes chastity, hope, peace, little sins, literal grapes because she lived near a vineyard?
I’m going to give my take on it. I’m noticing so much of my discontentment in my days are found in me rolling the red carpet out and welcoming my little fox to come and take my joy, my truth, my peace a little bit at a time. I think satan is no fool and he starts very young sending in the foxes to steal from our children as well. We have a job to do to teach our children to protect their “tender shoots” and chase the foxes away.
I learned a few things in my reading about foxes in general. They are silent and mainly solitary. they have an incredible sense of sight, smell, and hearing. They exhibit tremendous cleverness in going after their prey. They are very cunning, devious, and capable of misleading its pursuers with utmost skill. The very poster child of slyness. Ironically, foxes are incredibly cute and we see these small, sleek creatures and underestimate their calculated ways.
Grape by grape. Isn’t that more satan’s speed? He’s such a bastard like that. I have no other word or title I can give satan but that. Lest you think I’m just a brass woman with loose lips bastard also means “an unpleasant or despicable being”. So really I am being nice with that word.
Do we just fall into affairs? Gamble our life savings away? Murder out of jealous rage or covetous hearts? Walk away from our faith or churches? Spend ourselves into insurmountable debt?
Nay nay….that’s like burning your vineyard down with a blow torch. It starts with that fox burrow near our heart and mind. Are you standing there with a gun and a shovel or are you dismissing that cute little harmless fox? What’s wrong with a nibble here or there in your vineyard? The rest of our lives is pretty God honoring. Kind of.
A flick of the finger scrolling on Instagram or Facebook, viewing others lives, sends a jealous thought racing through your brain and scatters a seed of discontentment. Water it or stomp it out?
A harmless bout of flirting at work or church over a personal story. Harmless? It’s just words right? No action taken. The tender root of your marriage having razor sharp teeth bit into it. That’s actually a strategy of a fox to bite the shoot which causes the entire branch to wither and droop down. Easy pickins.
I’m SO TIRED I can’t go to church or make small group or fellowship with other believers. I gotta get on top of my rest and besides I had too much going on this weekend, I need some time to myself. Logical? Biblical? Ramming one week of your life into the next week without a moment of fellowship and Sabbath before the Lord. No fuel in the spiritual tank. Nibble, nibble…a grape here and a grape there.
I’m not gonna beat a dead horse here. I could toss out endless examples of subtle choices and thoughts we have that steal. STEAL our joy, hope, truth, and holy ambitions. Satan does not always come in like a lion. He sends those foxes in to starve our souls and confuse and compromise our minds so that he has a weak and lame sheep to devour and devour he will.
You, me, our precious children.
My Bennett is listening to something in his mind about these objects even though he can’t articulate it to me.
“Pssssst….” the fox slyly whispers as he rubs his bushy tale along Bennett’s tender vine. “It’s just a small bead, it’s not a big deal.” “The other kids got a prize this week but you didn’t, just take it.” “I wonder what it feels like to take something?” I honestly don’t know what grape the fox is taking. A bitterly uneven exchange of Bennett’s contentment and satisfaction for the sin of lust, greed, or covetousness. So little for so much grief. Please don’t be foolish parents and say “That’s just kids stuff..things kids do” or “They will grow out of it.” Your naivety or blind-eye is to your child’s detriment. This is serious stuff when it flows from the heart.
I know my child’s every need is met in ridiculous abundance even. There is no grave need that propels his hands to take. It is in his mind and heart. A battle in the heavenlies over my sons integrity and kingdom character and I refuse to not stand at his vineyard with my pitchfork in hand.
I also refuse to turn a blind eye at my own vineyard. Take up your weapon people. The battle is real. It isn’t usually the big and obvious sins that sweep in and destroy, it’s the tiny little ones that crack the foundation, rattle our cages, and redirect our path off the straight and narrow.
Fight…please keep fighting.
(images of Bennett courtesy of the awesome and dear Sara Ernst )