This is pretty close to exactly what I saw two days ago as I glanced out my kitchen window towards my little farm. This is now the second time he (or a close friend of his) has visited my area. It gave me pause for sure because it was clear that this dude (I'm totally guessing on sex), while cute and cuddly looking at first glance, wasn't interested in a social visit. There were two things that made the presence of this fox even more unsettling than normal.
One, it was mid-day. It was a little overcast but the sun was shining, the birds were chirping and yet there he was, seemingly unworried by his lack of shadow or stealth. As I've reflected on this over the last few days I've been reminded that this is similar to satan's MO in our world today. Sin which used to be viewed as shameful was committed under the cover of darkness and secrecy but is now openly celebrated and encouraged for all to see. This idea has been perpetuated within the church as well under the "come as you are" mantra. Of course we should come as we are to Jesus to receive healing and forgiveness but we've confused "come as you are" with "stay where you are" and that idea isn't supported anywhere in Scripture. God calls us out of the darkness and into the Light of Christ not to parade our sin but to serve as an example to others of what a journey towards holiness looks like.
The second unsettling fact that Franklin (I decided to name the fox) reminded me of is that we've perhaps become too comfortable with sin crouching at our doors. This dude was super close to I'm sure what he would have considered a very generous lunch. To be fair to the fox (in case he reads this) he wasn't openly prowling and gave no impression of being on the hunt and in fact he wasn't even looking in the direction of my little farm...but it was clear as he sat resting in the neighbors yard that he was present.
I'm reminded of the passage from Genesis 4:7 (NASB) where God is challenging Cain to not allow his anger to get the best of him and lead him into sin. God says, "If you do well, will your face not be cheerful? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
It is easy to slip into sinful patterns when we allow sin to crouch at the door of our hearts. When we regularly expose ourselves to things that lead us down that road it's no wonder we struggle to resist temptation.
1 Peter 5:8-9 (NASB) says, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. So resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brothers and sisters who are in the world."
What are you and I doing to make opportunities for sin uncomfortable in our spaces? Before I had the chance to startle Franklin he sauntered away on his own but I regret that I missed the chance to make him uncomfortable in that space. If he's comfortable, he'll come back and perhaps next time he won't leave on an empty stomach. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.
I keep lots of list. If I don't, I forget about things. I have separate lists for each of the efforts I'm involved in....personal stuff at home, church ministry stuff, overall camp stuff, high school camp stuff, baccalaureate, 3SLI, etc. It helps me stay organized and for the most part (feel free to comment with the exception) it prevents me from forgetting about stuff I need to get done.
I was reading through Paul's letter to the Corinthians this morning and came across chapter 10:1-5 (NASB) which says, "For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and they all passed through the sea; and they all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and they all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased; for their dead bodies were spread out in the wilderness."
Paul was writing this letter to those Christians gathered in the city of Corinth who had perhaps gotten distracted by the pursuit of "evil things" (see verse 6). He was reminding them of their forefathers (the Israelites) who had also chased "evil things" despite the fact that God has provided so much for them.
Despite all of these provisions verse 5 is crystal clear, "Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased; for their dead bodies were spread out in the wilderness." That's rough. Why would the Israelites still chase "evil things" even when God had so clearly provided for them every step of the way? From the outside looking in, it's somewhat easy for you and I to pinpoint the error of their ways and from a place of hindsight clearly identify what went wrong. From this vantage point, it's easy to see how God had provided for them and guided them all along their journey but somehow they missed it. Did they feel alone? Did they feel as though God wasn't hearing their cries for help? Did they feel invisible? Why did they feel as though they had to forget their own future?
We know now that none of that is true because we have the record of God's provision, His Word! But perhaps in the moment the Israelites would have benefited from a real-time record for themselves. Maybe when the first person started grumbling and complaining, no one spoke up and reminded the group of God's faithfulness or maybe like us, when they got caught up in the moment they allowed the pressures of life to blur their minds and convince them they were all alone. It's clear that the Israelites missed the mark and were "chasing evil" but I don't think it's because they were trying to. On the contrary, they missed the mark because they weren't trying to remember how faithful God had been to them.
When it comes to life in general, I'm convinced that I've forgotten far more than I remember. I think the same is true for my relationship with God. I've forgotten about all of the times He's protected me, all the times He's guided me, all the times He's heard me and responded, all the times He's answered my prayer, all the times He's calmed me down, all the times He's changed my heart, all the times He's been there when I've felt alone. He has never been unfaithful to me even when I've been unfaithful to Him. Remembering that fact helps change my appetite from the things of this world to the things of God. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.