Alarm buzzer startles you awake. Your hand automatically finds the snooze button as you critically stare at the numbers on your clock telling yourself, “It took me forever to fall asleep last night. It won’t kill me to get nine more minutes of sleep.”
When it goes off again, you hit the snooze again thinking, “I’m doing pretty well lately. I can miss prayer time this morning. Plus I prayed extra yesterday, so I’m covered.”
Ten minutes to make your own breakfast seems like a little too much work, so you run out the door deciding that you deserve to splurge a little at your favorite donut shop for coffee and breakfast, since you just paid your bills and you “don’t have time” for breakfast anyway.
I could continue to describe the rest of the day with not-so-great yet not horrible decisions covered with excuses and justifications to why it’s really ok to not lead a life of excellence. You might now be thinking, “Sarah, those decisions really aren’t all that bad. What’s the big deal?”
Ever heard of the little foxes?
Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.
The Song of Solomon 2:15
Little foxes sneak into vineyards and love to eat plants when they first begin to sprout, so the plant never has a chance to grow bigger. They cut it off from the beginning. Watch out for the little foxes! If you’re not aware of the little things in your life, you may never have a blooming vineyard! We often disregard the “little” things in our lives, and then a few weeks pass and we wonder why we’re “suddenly” so far from God. (Hint: it didn’t happen suddenly. You ignored the little foxes and your vineyard never got a chance to grow. You ignored the little things and allowed distractions to pile up so high, you lost sight of God. He didn’t go anywhere. You allowed it a barrier to grow over time.)
“Ok, I get the fox metaphor now, but I still don’t see how those first things are all that bad.” Stick with me here.
As humans, we tend to pursue “why” things happened. You can see it begin with small children:
“Eat your food, Jimmy”
“So you can grow big and strong.”
“So you can be like daddy.”
“So you can have a good life.”
“I DON’T KNOW BECAUSE I SAID SO. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST EAT.”
You get the picture. We want to know “why” as adults too, especially when bad things happen. A childhood friend dies. Parents get divorced. We get divorced. A bomb goes off somewhere killing innocent people. A plane crashes. A parent dies. We want to know why.
Is it really helpful to understand the reason? Do you feel better when you know why? Generally not. The pain doesn’t go away because you know the reason.
Let’s tune it down a notch. How about when your roommate/child/spouse doesn’t do the dishes every day for a month? Or maybe your partner for a group project at school or work just doesn’t satisfactorily contribute. “WHY DID YOU DO THIS?”
It’s interesting that we need a reason for everything to happen. What if you stopped giving reason to everything for a day? Like instead of saying, “I ate four donuts BECAUSE I’ve had a rough week and I needed it,” you say, “I ate four donuts.”
Transform, “I’m late to school/work BECAUSE my baby was screaming/ my alarm didn’t go off/ traffic was horrible” to just “I’m late.”
Taking responsibility for your actions means you will first of all see the gravity of your mistake, but secondly (and more importantly) you will be able to grow from it. You will be able to see that the fault is yours and yours alone, and you can fix it. If the blame is outside of yourself, you’re placing responsibility on things you cannot control, which means you’re not guilty for failing, something else is. It feels better to fix the blame outwardly.
Perhaps the solution isn’t a need to discover why things happen, but instead how to improve upon it next time. So let’s transform the sentences even further:
“I’m late today, but tomorrow I will leave earlier so that I will be on time.”
That sentence includes no justification or guilt, but instead a solution—an agreement to learn from a mistake for which you are responsible.
I’m walking through a season of my life right now where I got distracted by little excuses, and found myself distant from the Lord. I’ve been choosing little excuses in every situation instead of choosing more of God. These choices led me to feeling lonely and lost. After weeks of trading a relentless pursuit of God in for more “me time”, movies, social media, tv shows, etc., I realized I stopped living life intentionally, and the more I cried about how lost I was becoming, the more I wanted to distract myself with more mindless activities.
How did I get here?
Excuses. Justification. BECAUSE.
All little foxes.
Yes. Pursuing Christ daily is hard. I get it. But avoiding him daily, even though is less work and feels nice initially, eventually leads to exhaustion, depression, isolation, anger, hopelessness, and more.
From this day forward, I don’t want nor need excuses in my life. I want to take responsibility for my actions and keep moving forward. I want to seek God daily, especially on the days it feels unnecessary or impossible. I’m done letting the little foxes steal from me. I want to get to the end of this life worn out and exhausted from a race well run with joy and perseverance. I don’t need a comfortable life that keeps me busy until I die. I desire a life of fullness with God who desires more to bless me abundantly than constantly forgive me.
I choose life, lived on purpose.