‘Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square. She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate: “How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge? Come and listen to my counsel.I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.’
Scrolling through my Instagram feed, the post catches my eye. The caption ‘this crocodile has been stuck in a tire for more than a year’ seems too interesting to not read what follows. So, the less-than-55-second video goes on to explain how about a year ago, passersby had noticed the black motorbike tire around the neck of one of the crocodiles in an Indonesian river. The reptile had been much smaller then. For a while nothing had been done as many had believed it could easily fall off, but over the months that followed, authorities had started becoming more concerned. As the reptile had increased in size, the tire which once hung loosely had come to fit snugly and was gradually becoming tighter to the point where they feared it would be choking the giant reptile soon if nothing was done about it. All attempts to capture it had proved futile. The nets, tranquilizers, etc, had all failed as it continuously evaded them or resisted their efforts and with those giant jaws and dangerously sharp teeth, a lot of care has to be taken for anyone to get close enough to help it.
My mind was quickly drawn to how real this is for us humans as well. I couldn’t help thinking about how at some stage in our lives, usually in our younger years, we pick up certain things; attitudes, habits, thoughts and beliefs which at the time probably don’t seem like much but over time, their real danger starts to be evident. Often it is the people around us, who care, who notice the habit or attitude and the danger it poses. We tend to catch on much later, at the point where we are being choked to death or when it is too late especially when like this reptile, we resist advice, encouragement to change and outright help to move in a better direction. The tire which was once snug and we seemed to wield control over and even like the feel of, starts to exhibit its unyielding nature and something that at one time seemed innocuous, starts to choke the very life out of us. Our work falls behind, our relationships fail to grow better, we lose contracts or find ourselves in debt. You’ve probably heard it said that a bad attitude (habit, thought process or belief system) is like a flat tire, it wont take you far(anywhere). Here, I add that it is like the tire around a growing crocodile’s neck, if you don’t get it off, it will soon ‘kill’ you.
In Songs of Solomon 2:15, we are admonished to ‘catch all the foxes, those little foxes, that spoil ruin the vineyards, for the grapevines are blossoming’. It’s interesting observing the stress placed on the ‘little foxes’, they are the sleek, cute, non- threatening ones that we may give passes to, but as they get comfortable, the damage they do becomes obvious and later, as adult foxes or big foxes, it is outright hard to get rid of them. A good walk through the book of Proverbs can already highlight so many of these ‘little foxes’. Telling lies, being rude, intolerance, impatience, anger, laziness, the list does go on. Sometimes it is things like how we view ourselves and others around us based on opinions and ideologies that we allowed in or fed on without even realizing the damage they were causing. These things eventually guide our choices of friends, our attitude towards work, our relationship with friends and strangers and our very approach to life. We look down on ourselves because some years back a little fox called inadequacy crept in and settled safely in the vineyard and now even when we accomplish something, we don’t feel it is good enough, it never is. It doesn’t have anything to do with complacency but you just feel until you have reached that point determined by that person, you will never be enough, And so you push on, unhappy with the steps you take, although you are taking the steps but unhappy anyway because you don’t measure up to that other person. The foxes vary. The tires vary. For her it may be the anger issues but for him it may be an unwillingness to do any work well or an unwillingness to even try at anything.
How do we get rid of the little foxes? We get rid of them by not letting them in in the first place. It is so much easier to prevent something from starting than to stop it once it has already taken root and started growing. Stop them! Protect the border, set up the right barricade, use the right material, get security, protect what you cherish, stop the little foxes from getting anywhere near those blossoming vineyards. The book of proverbs is just life-giving, on this it also says, ‘Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life’ – Proverbs 4:23. If for some reason as in most cases, the foxes have already snuck in and are already baring their sharp teeth at you, there is STILL grace to take charge and use the right tools to get rid of these nasty foxes. If everyone is pointing and shouting and trying to get your attention Mr Crocodile, there must be something bad choking you without you even knowing. Pay attention. The book of proverbs again talks about lady wisdom standing at the roadside shouting, ‘LISTEN!‘. Listen to her and live. Step away from the bad company, the bad music and television shows that encourage you to speak however you want or get back at people who hurt you, the comparison of your life and where you are to others via social media, the views about yourself that do not encourage growth, etc. GET CLOSE to people of faith, not gossips, not people glorifying bad habits and bad choices, not people who drag you down. GET IN the word!! Wisdom is shouting there, read, listen and put into practice. Yes, PUT INTO practice. If the foxes have already chewed at the roots of some of those lovely vines, it will not take a day to get the vineyard looking great again. Single deliberate acts of obedience to the word of God, to wisdom, everyday, will show you where ALL the foxes are one at a time, and will lead you to get rid of every single one of them, smoke them out, expose them to the light and run them off the vineyard. John 8:32 says ‘And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’. When the foxes are exposed to the light, they can be gotten rid off, the tire choking you around your neck can be cut off and you will breathe better. Cut off? Yes. Sometimes the process of parting with habits that have already been chewed at the base or have taken root can be downright painful, again the book of proverbs says to that, ‘My child, don’t reject the LORD’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you.’ – Proverbs 3:11. It can be painful, annoying and as uncomfortable as the blade that is coming too close to cut you lose of that tire, but it is absolutely necessary and WILL set you free.
So today, if your vineyard is yet intact, keep it so with the word. If you have already picked up a habit that won’t help and you have godly loved ones pointing it out to you and trying to get you to notice, pay attention, listen and again, get in the word and allow the good news to change you and thereafter, stay in the word! However, if that tire has already started to choke you, allow it to be cut off. Stop striving, stop biting at those trying to help, settle down and listen to lady wisdom cut you free.
Kill it before it kills you!
God loves you and longs for you to live the life that He has called you to. Free in Him.
Thank you for reading.