Driving to work one morning I see a red fox running across the road right in front of me. All stretched out, his tail is fluffy and pure white. His orange-red fur shines in the rising sun. At one point I’m sure I see all four of his feet off the ground. A beautiful sight to behold, I feel as if I’m privy to a world that we humans rarely see.
The scene reminds me of a dream I had long ago. Far off in the distance I see a pretty woman with beautiful red hair. She’s carrying a matching fur muff draped over one arm. “How stylish,” I think to myself as I approach her. But as I get closer I realize that something’s terribly wrong. It’s not a fur muff at all. A red fox’s teeth are embedded in her arm. He hangs down from his teeth.
The woman’s chatting and laughing with friends as if nothing’s wrong. Close up the fox is not so beautiful. He’s mangy, snarly, and very dangerous.
“Uh, excuse me,” I say. “Do you know there’s a fox hanging from your arm?”
“Why, yes I do,” she replies politely and carries on with her conversation.
“Uh,” I continue. “Why don’t you do something about it?”
“Because,” she says sweetly, “I can’t remember my life before the fox.”
That’s the end of my dream. Whatever affliction this fox represents, the red-haired woman is so used to him that she can’t remember a time when he wasn’t a part of her life.
If you or anyone you love has ever been controlled by an addiction, you understand this woman. The addiction not only travels with you through life, it embeds itself in you and changes who you are. Most surprisingly, the addiction becomes comfortable with you and you become comfortable with the addiction.
We feel sorry for those who struggle with addiction and yet, the fox embedded in the woman’s arm can represent all of us.
Sometimes we’re so used to sin, that we don’t even recognize it as sin anymore. We’ve become so comfortable with it, it’s simply a part of who we are. And we make excuses for one another. “Oh, that’s just Henry. He’s always been that way.”
Or we jokingly say, “The devil made me do it.” The devil can’t force us to do anything, but he can sure influence us if we’re not vigilant and on guard. And that’s no laughing matter.
Remember Adam and Eve? They’re living in Paradise. They walk with the Lord of all creation. All they’re asked to do is to obey what the Lord told Adam before Eve was even on the scene.
“And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die’" (Genesis 2:16-17).
But the wily serpent weaves his way into Eve’s mind and she doubts the truth. She eats from the tree. She offers the fruit to Adam and he also eats. They hide from the Lord, but he confronts them. Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent. Neither one takes responsibility for their own sin.
It’s no different today. All we have to do is to look around us. We live in a country of name calling and shame blaming. In political ads the opponents say nasty and mean things about one another. What happened to actually discussing the issues? What happened to treating one another with dignity?
Sin has become popular. It’s woven into our culture. It’s even become stylish, like a beautiful red fox. Sin’s also portrayed as the truth. But the truth is that we’re all the same. Each one of us is a sinner. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
So is there any hope for anyone? Of course there is. “… all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
Don’t put your faith in the world, in the culture, in politics, in people. Put your faith in the only real truth, Jesus Christ. He can remove the foxes from our arms. He can set us free.
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1).