We read often about Solomon and his considerable wisdom. He asked for this gift when he was to be anointed as king and God blessed him with it. Even so, it did not prevent him from failing to recognize the folly of giving in to the lure of beautiful women of different religions and cultures that pulled him away from the faith of his father, David.
Reading words Solomon has written points to how keen the insight was that the Lord gave him despite his challenge to follow it faithfully all his days. If only he had learned what the Lord showed him.
All these many years later we are not so different.
A verse written by Solomon that often comes to mind is this:
“Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.”
Song of Solomon 2:15 (ESV)
When I think of or read this verse it reminds me that it is the little things that get in the way of fruitfulness in my life. Solomon’s use of the word “little” brings to mind that too often little things get in the way of the important things meant to produce a rich harvest.
Reading and reviewing Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath, I read about the challenge researchers found when any of us experience “scarcity” whether that be in time or money. It’s that nagging challenge we face so often of “not enough.” It sends us looking at what to do next, but the research discovers something that lines up with the words of Solomon:
“…the harm is not that the big problems crowd out the little ones. The harm is that the little ones crowd out the big ones.”
How true! How often we miss that or fail to learn this truth that is so valuable. But what happens when that happens?
Dan Heath quotes from the book, Scarcity, that doing this causes “tunneling.” He goes on to describe “tunneling” this way:
“When people are juggling a lot of problems, they give up trying to solve them all. They adopt tunnel vision. There’s no long-term planning; there’s no strategic prioritization of issues.
…because it confines us to short-term, reactive thinking. In the tunnel there is only forward.”
What I think we miss in the process is how those little problems (“little foxes”) set up part of the problem with development or maintenance of the big problems. We must and do react to the big ones and miss the clues along the way so they nibble away and take time from the most important things.
We need space to increase the bandwidth to have the reserve of energy to look at the whole picture and plan so that the things that are meant to be reaped in our lives are not gobbled up or eroded.
Much of the time those “little foxes” are thoughts that nibble away and use time, energy and resources. Too often they lead us into temptation down “the yellow brick road” and on the way we lose our way. We yield to using our money, times, and gifts for impulsive choices that can upend us.
“When your emphasis is always forward, forward, forward, you never stop to ask whether you’re going in the right direction.” Dan Heath
I cannot help but wonder when I consider the wisdom of Dan Heath’s words if that was part of what happened to Solomon and so many of us in this fast-paced adrenaline pushing culture. It is so easy to succumb!
We look in the rearview mirror to simpler times when people talked to their neighbors over lawnmowers and picket fences or stopped by a front porch for a glass of iced tea. They elude most of us now unless we are on vacation or retired and many retirees keep up a steady stream of activities as well because the adrenaline addiction doesn’t always stop when we lay aside our work life.
The Apostle Paul gives us clear direction of how we address the issue Solomon talks about that takes us down too many “yellow brick roads.”
“We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One.”
2 Corinthians 10:5 (TPT)
To follow this wise admonition of Paul’s we need to give ourselves some bandwidth to identify the “little foxes” and determine if we are indeed going in the right direction.