The Fox and the Hound
When we bought our house in a quiet neighborhood of a college town, I never expected I would need to research wildlife. After all, one mile down the road, there’s a small shopping plaza. A couple of miles the other way, there’s a cluster of offices, yogurt shops, miniature golf course, etc.
In short, a fox family should not be content to frolic in my yard. We offer no thickets or chicken coops. One reason they could be prowling around my backyard, driveway and front yard, however, is to meet and greet my 5-lb Yorkshire Terrier. Not gonna happen.
Maybe I’ve absorbed too many Beatrix Potter stories, but a fox is a bad guy to me--tricky, cunning, predatory, and omnivorous. He is also beautiful, especially the red fox.
As I researched ways to get rid of these interlopers, I couldn’t help being reminded of our great Enemy. In many ways, he is like the fox: intelligent, cunning, predatory, and omnivorous—and in the guise of meeting our deepest needs, he can appear as a beautiful solution to many problems, unless we are wise to his deceit.
Omnivorous? Yes, it doesn’t matter who a person is—young, old, rich, poor, male, female--if he or she is human, he is God’s creation, and nothing gives Satan more pleasure than driving a wedge between the Creator and his creation and ultimately destroying lives.
1 Peter 5:7-9 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” As Christians, we may be lulled into feeling untouchable by his stalking. But just because he prowls the perimeter of our lives and isn’t invited inside the cottage to sit by the hearth doesn’t mean he isn’t dangerous. Here are some tips I read for getting rid of foxes that might apply to our predator, as well:
--Get rid of your garbage ASAP. Foxes will raid trash cans and compost piles. Likewise, if there is sin we haven’t acknowledged and asked forgiveness for, we are mistaken to think it is safely buried in the past. We’re still open to raids and to our own bondage to that sin. In fact, we are warned in Proverbs 26:11 that we are likely to return to that sin like “a dog returns to its vomit.” Unconfessed sin weakens our fortress against recurring failures and against staving off new sinful invasions. Thankfully, we have a place to take our ugly baggage, the cross of Christ, where no one is ever turned away. Ever.
--Don't feed them or get close enough to pet them. I’m going to get a little more exhortative here than usual: Do not “flirt” with trouble. Do not so much as dip your toe into the waters of sketchy behaviors. Do not tolerate within yourself a thought or habit out of line with what you know your Father approves of. Do not allow yourself to get too close to a stronghold to prove you have overcome or been delivered of it. You are not a superhuman, no matter how much you’ve been set free from. Christians are vulnerable to any sin. I speak from personal experience when I say never kid yourself or claim to someone else, “I would never be involved in [X],” whatever nefarious situation that might be, slight or blatant. Before the mist from your breath carrying those spoken words dissipates, Satan will be licking his chops and drawing up plans to bring you down.
--Watch over your small pets. When I think of what could happen to my little, innocent dog, I get goose bumps. Now, this is a stretch, but protect your little ones, your children, even those who live in your house who are not so little anymore. As children grow older, parenting does not grow easier; the issues simply change, and we face challenges from the child in addition to those from the outside. My little dog cannot understand why I won’t let her roam in the backyard, but she has no idea what danger lurks there. My kids have not always understood why we chose to do or not do certain things. They may have thought I was foolish, but they did not fully know what I know. And if I have occasionally over-reached in protecting them, I have been a fool for lesser things.
--Don’t let the fox immobilize or intimidate you. He is a menace, but he is not omnipotent. He may threaten; he may attack, but Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
We are not powerless. However, we conquer the enemy only through the power of Christ, which he gives to every one of his children as they daily confront the foxes and giants in their lives. His word tells us to humble ourselves, obey him, and believe in him who conquered death and whose name is above all. The way to keep the fox at bay, then, is to trust in the “Hound of Heaven,” who specializes in finding lost children and subduing the frustrated, defeated fox.
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