The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come...
Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away...
Let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely...
Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.
Song of Solomon 2:13-15
Oh yeah. You read that right.
We're delving into the Song of Solomon today, friends!
(Don't worry. It won't get weird ;) )
Hans loves landscaping, and he's wickedly good at it. He's spent the past several weeks transforming our yard into beautiful and well-tended gardens...leafy plants here, raised vegetable gardens there, rows of tulips, and herbs tucked away in corners of the lawn. The man has a green thumb like I've never seen.
Which is good, because I've killed more plants than I care to admit.
For our garden to flourish, we have to water it, weed it, protect it from critters. I'm realizing that our garden has a lot of parallels to our marriage. If we want our garden and our marriage to grow, they need protection.
The Song of Solomon (aka, the most risqué book in the Bible...ow ow!!) is rich with imagery of nature. It is the beautiful love story of a bride and her husband. The bride compares their marriage to a lovely vineyard in blossom, and asks her husband to "catch the little foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards".
You see, foxes can destroy a vineyard. They will sneak in, they will tear up roots, eat the fruit, destroy the new life, dig around and sabotage the plants that you're trying to grow and cultivate.
Foxes can destroy a marriage, too.
They can sneak in, small and unnoticed at first...but they can absolutely obliterate the garden of your marriage if they aren't hunted down and eradicated.
Modern day "foxes" that have messed us up at some point or another: not putting Jesus first, not agreeing about roles within marriage, annoyances, not giving grace to each other, criticism, not communicating expectations and desires, fear, raging bitterness, not agreeing about money/schedule/family/ministry/etc., and good old fashioned selfishness.
The garden of our marriage has endured some foxy attacks, and there were times we failed to protect our relationship. We knew something was off-kilter, but we failed to address it before it got out of control.
The garden of our relationship is precious to us, and we're learning to hunt those foxes before they can destroy what we've grown. If we sense that something is wrong or out of joint, we talk about instead of ignoring it. We have regular date nights to guard against letting romance fizzle out. We discuss expectations on the regular...because if we don't, dark discontentment creeps in (oddly enough, we can't read each other's minds...crazy, right?!) and builds up in the nastiest of ways.
We don't have this perfect. Not by any means. But we're learning to hunt down those foxes before they can destroy the garden of our marriage. It's a team effort...and thank goodness we have Jesus on our team.
Under Grace, Rachel
PS - Check out the book A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. It tells a true, raw, and honest love story. I won't spoil it for you (you really should read it!), but Sheldon and his wife often talk about raising a "shining barrier" around their relationship...their way of guarding their garden.