15 “Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes.” Song of Solomon 2:15 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
When I was an English teacher, I was a very busy guy. Most years I taught 6 periods a day and had a total of 150 students. And every year, I made the same resolution: “Next year, I’m going to set up a system so that everything will be organized and life will run smoothly.”
However, whenever a new school year started, I never had my “Flawless Comprehensive Organization System” perfected and in place. Things were still disorganized, and every day had its difficulties and snags. So I vowed that when the next school year started, I would surely have a master plan by then.
Then, one day, I made a profound discovery. I realized I was never going to have a once-and-for-all plan that would make my universe slide along in greased grooves. I realized that the real power in life is in making small changes day by day. Sometimes making a small change can make a big difference in your life. And if you make enough small changes, well, it can change everything.
Take, for example, the year I had to escort my 9th graders to lunch. It was a large school, and the cafeteria was on the other side of the building. It was driving me crazy that I couldn’t get my students back to English class on time after they’d finished eating. So one day I came up with a plan. Here’s what I told my students:
“From now on, when I finish eating lunch, I’ll stand up in front of the cafeteria and wave my arms over my head. You’ll know it’s me because I’ll be the bald-headed-man wearing a bow-tie. I’ll set my stopwatch for 60 seconds. That will give you time to put away your tray. After the 60 seconds pass, I will leave the cafeteria and walk slowly back to the classroom. When I arrive at the classroom, I will put another 60 seconds on my stopwatch. After that minute passes, I will lock the classroom door. You will have to get a tardy slip from the office to be admitted.”
Of course, you can imagine that the freshmen had all sorts of objections to this. They said they couldn’t get back to the classroom (on the other side of the campus) in 60 seconds. I pointed out that they didn’t have to sprint to the classroom; they only had to be there 60 seconds after me. After all, I didn’t walk very fast. I was old, and bald, and sick, and crippled. They were young, and beautiful, and healthy, and strong. It really shouldn’t be a problem.
Having made my announcement, I worked my plan. If you didn’t make it back to the classroom one minute after I did, you were late. I locked kids outside the door and would not let them in, even though they peered in through the window and begged and pleaded and made pitiful faces. Once, I locked out the school board president’s son. But, you know, after that, there were no more tardies. Lunchtime — the thing I had dreaded most — became a pleasant experience.
So now, instead of trying to fix my whole life, I just try to fix a small thing every day. Yesterday, I was aggravated because I couldn’t figure out which wire (out of the huge tangle of wires) hooks onto my removable computer backup drive. I realized I was spending 10 minutes each day trying to find the right cord. So, I put a piece of green electrical tape on the correct cord so I can spot it quickly. One small change means one less aggravation.
In today’s Scripture lesson at the top, King Solomon talks about the little foxes that were spoiling the vineyard. I’m sure that in his kingdom he had much more serious problems than a few little animals. But he realized that by eliminating these small irritations, he could bring about a bountiful harvest. Fixing small things often brings about large dividends.
What are the “little foxes” you need to get rid of in your life this week? Are there temptations you’re keeping nearby that are going to lead you into sin? Are there small things you need to attend to that may lead you to great joy? Strive every day to make small improvements — so that your life may count more effectively for the Saviour.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 26 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he works at a public school.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 20) and Seth (age 17) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where several years ago the Preacher’s dog caught a REAL fox in the woods behind the house.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to email@example.com.