In Song of Solomon, the Bride asks her future husband to “Catch the foxes…that spoil the vineyard” (2:15). She is asking him to beware of the little annoyances and issues in the day to day that could incrementally nip and nibble away their joy. Often, it’s not the big problems in life that steal our joy, it’s the accumulation of the little ones.
At the risk of taking God’s Word a bit out of context, I’d like to turn Solomon’s bride’s words on their head a bit. There is another side of this coin, which I considered this morning after a rather friendly and apologetic woman tried to squeeze between the checkout counter and my cart at the grocery store. “In my mind I could make it!” she exclaimed, as she became wedged between the conveyer and my cart. To which I replied in agreement, “Yes, our brains keep the memory of what our bodies once were.” After a hearty laugh and a cheerful goodbye, we parted ways.
That little encounter in the grocery store (one of my least favorite places on the planet, I might add-where little foxes abound for me) made my day more joyful. It was just a brief encounter. But it contained power to brighten my day because I chose to remember it and make it a focus of joy on a mundane Saturday morning.
While the little foxes chew and gnaw at our joy, not to mention our love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, there are other little critters in our vineyard that almost imperceptibly work as countermeasures. They are easy to miss, because our bent is toward the negative. We are experts at sighing and focusing on the stress of our day because we don’t mind our fox traps. But I would challenge you to “catch those foxes” daily. Then turn your mind to the oft overlooked little critters that tend to our vineyard, yielding a crop of joy.
In addition to the slightly stout and friendly lady in the grocery store this morning, my joy producing “critters” could include the “Have a nice day!” that was aimed at me from the mentally challenged young man who retrieved my cart in the store parking lot, or the sweet, “Hi, Grammy!” I got this morning from my little granddaughter when I stopped at my son’s house on my errand run, or the nice driver who waved me on to go in front of him at the stop sign, or the impossibly bright auburn tree outside my office window this beautiful late November afternoon.
The writer of Proverbs teaches, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (17:22). Of course, as a Christ follower, my source of joy is Christ, whose Spirit enables me to focus on the little joys that override the effects of those insidious little foxes. “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible…” (1 Peter 1:8). Those little foxes can’t escape from that!