Graze: To feed on growing grasses.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

-Ps. 23:1-6

Growing up on a farm, I used to watch the cows, sheep & horses graze in the pasture. Each morning we would open the gate to the barnyard and they knew there was freedom from that small pen they were in. They also knew there was nice green grass beyond the barnyard. Once the gate was open, look out because those animals wanted to get where the tall, green grass grew – the pasture! They would take off sometimes even running up the old fenced lane that went up over the hill through the cornfield to the lush green pasture on the other side of the farm. There they would graze for a while then lay down and rest for a while then graze some more. They did this all day long. Come evening we would go over to the pasture’s edge and call the cows – 'come boss, 'come boss. They would gather at the pasture gate. Sometimes we would have to go round up a few stragglers and when all were accounted for, we’d open the lane gate and back over the hill they would go to the barnyard for the night. The next morning was the same routine, day after day.
What a life, huh?!

Oh that we could just graze and rest in shady green pastures all day long! But we can rest and graze in God’s green pastures and restore our souls . . . The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. (Ps. 23:1) I believe God wants us to slow down and “rest” and “graze” and “feed” on His Word. Life throws so many things our way and we are so busy – busy doing good things. But are we running on empty a good share of the time? Are we feeling stretched to extreme? Are we content with who we are in God’s divine providence? Slow down and take some time to just leisurely graze, rest a while, then graze and feed on the good things God has provided for you. Graze, rest, and enjoy the “shady green pastures” of God’s abundant love, grace, and mercy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Little Foxes

I was reminded today of a little fox that I saw on the gravel road just before I turned into mom and dad's driveway one day last fall. At first, I thought it was a cat but it was much too sly for a cat. A cat would have just sauntered on its merry way but this little fox was crouched low to the ground, looking all around, and seemed to be sneaking up out of the road ditch. Of course the minute I came around the corner the little red fox retreated back into the ditch and up the other side into the pasture. Dad said he had noticed it several times near the end of the pasture. He had been watching it for a couple of weeks and said it was gradually creeping up closer and closer to the house.

Sometimes there are things in our lives that happen so fast and furious we can hardly grasp onto them. They come and go like a whirlwind. But many times there are things that creep up on us much like the little fox ever so gradually and sometimes even at a snail's pace. Stop and take note. When a red flag pops up, even if just for a fleeting second, we need to look long and hard at it. The things we hardly notice at first, the small, tiny things that we shrug off as "it doesn't really matter", or I'll catch it "next time", or they didn't mean anything by that - it's okay . . . but in all reality, it is not okay. These are the things we need to beware of. Things that as time goes on can lead to heartache and destruction if not attended to.

Song of Solomon 2:15 says, "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom."

It is so easy to ignore the insignificant little things that life brings to our mind, heart and lives. The "little foxes" that creep into life so unnoticed that we excuse them and hope nobody else noticed. Have you noticed any "little foxes" in your life lately?

Maybe you are slipping in some areas of your existance. Maybe some "little foxes" have crept into areas of your life. Areas like your family, your finances and spending, your actions or attitudes, your anger or abuse, drugs or alcohol, your time and lifestyle, your devotions, your own self. Look back and reflect for just a moment . . . any of these things can slip in ever so slowly but chip away at the very foundation of who we are. Who are you, where have you been, where are you right this moment, and where are you going? Let me remind you that over time, the little foxes grow into big foxes. So watch out for the "little foxes" ... the little things that can become a stronghold in our vineyard of life and can destroy the bloom - can destroy us or those around us.

Have some "little foxes" slipped into your life? Are they ruining your "God-given bloom"? Have they slipped in so gradual that they were hardly noticed or maybe you have just tucked them away from your heart and mind. Out of sight - out of mind, as the saying goes! I think we have all been guilty of that at times. But seriously, what little foxes are impacting your life at this very minute? What stronghold are you struggling with today?

Are you dealing with some foxes in your life and you know, down deep in your heart, that the chains of this cycle have to be broken? Things that started out small and insignificant that have become strongholds to you and your children and family that control who you are and what you do - holding you hostage within your very life. If so, you cannot be the "bloom" God created you to be. I urge you to "catch that little (or big) fox before it destroys your "bloom and your vineyard"!

What can you do? You can try to tame the foxes. Yes, you can seek help from a counselor, or a pastor. Find a strong support group. Surround yourself with strong, positive, praying Christians that will encourage everyone involved to seek counseling and hold them accountable to it until the foxes are caught and dealt with. Learn everything you can to understand the whole situation for you and those involved. Seek God's ultimate wisdom,knowledge, and the power of God's saving grace in your situation. God can bring understanding, healing, and possibly a resolve, if everyone involved is willing to seek Him in total obedience and put forth the time and effort to break the unhealthy cycle. It may not happen overnight, especially if it has been a lifetime coming. But time, effort, and commitment to change can bring it to pass with the help of some wise counsel and with God on your side.

Do everything you know to do then let God do the rest! Trust God to lead you every step of the way. His leading may take you down an unfamiliar path but press on - He knows the way through the wilderness. He can and will guide your every step. I like the words to Mark Harris' song "One True God" - take a moment and listen to it right now. There is a phrase that has run through my head for months... "I don't have a God I can put on a stand, I don't have a God I can hold in my hand. But I have a God that is holding me . . . One True God!" It may not be easy, you may have to make some hard decisions that will change you forever. But don't stop now - be strong, get rid of the "little foxes", whatever they may be. They will destroy your vineyard and keep you from blooming! Our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become. Break free and bloom. Remember Cinderella - it only took one shoe to change her whole life!! This is true for you and I also... one shoe ... one step ... one broken chain link ... one God! And just remember that you have a God that is holding you no matter where He takes you. Whether it is over the mountain or down in the valley or across the plain, take that step - no matter how difficult it may seem - and break the cycle that is holding you captive and always remember ... you have One True God and He is there for you right this very minute.

"My heart is grateful that Your love, O Lord, remains forever, and our security is in You." -Psalm 103

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