Grumpy men and Hungry Tree-planters
– Merry Saturday by Parris Bailey
“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” SOS 2:15
I started seeing the little foxes sneaking into my vineyard way back in bible school. I was so young! In some way it was easy to spot them. You know the one’s who gather people around them and have their “opinion”. After the first year at our bible school our director decided to move into community. Instead of a two year bible school we would live in common indefinitely. Although the plan had it’s downfalls, some thought “we were getting ready to drink the cool-aid.” Our campus was in a swirl, one particular guy who happened to be one of our mentors decided it was his time to leave and he went around wearing “duct tape” on his mouth!
For us, we knew it wasn’t time to part ways and to stay on was better for us. But bigger foxes came when we were “sent” to tree plant in the mountains living in tents for months at a time. The food was bad, the pay was cheap (none!) and we froze to death. Whatever bad attitude one had down in the valley, it hit you in the head on tree-planting trips. The work would either break you or make you. It wasn’t uncommon to have folks leave for good once they went tree-planting. Luther said, “Foxes are crafty and subtle creatures, malignant and mischievous, hungry and voracious, full of deceit and dissimulation, are of an ill smell, and abominably filthy. They spoil the vine, as foxes do, by gnawing the branches, biting the bark, making bare the roots, devouring the ripe grapes, and infecting all with their noxious teeth and vicious breath.” If you didn’t have issues of your own to deal with, believe me someone in that tent camp would bring things out of you, you never knew existed!
But thanks be unto God that always causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and brings out the savor of Christ even in the midst of a bunch of grumbling hungry tree-planters!.
I still see our night meetings, singing at the tops of our lungs in the tent with the stove stoked, “I WILL SING UNTO THE LORD FOR HE HAS TRIUMPHED GLORIOUSLY, THE HORSE AND RIDER HE HAS THROWN INTO THE SEA.” We were dirty, hungry and probably endangering our lives but God did something so supernatural to Frank and I that only those mountains could teach us. We had to “catch those little foxes.” Be it the cold, your leader, the rats, the lack of nourishing food, my 2 year old up there, each one of those things tried to haunt me- but His presence overruled each fox.
Simpson said, “He is indeed willing to come into our common life, and help us with our vines and little foxes, but not until we have first surrendered them to Him so fully that we are at leisure from them for His other calls, and are willing to turn aside from the most engrossing occupation to commune with Him or to follow Him wherever He may lead. Oh, that each of us might be able to say of every call of heavenly voice, “When thou saidst ‘Seek ye my face,’ then my heart replied, ‘Thy face, Lord, will I seek.”