@robertkwendt || lead pastor
Have you ever gotten somewhere and wondered..."How did I get here?"
I am not talking about walking to the refrigerator and wondering what you were hungry for. I'm not even talking about when you are driving down the freeway and catch yourself "in the zone."
I am talking about when you are faced with trials and pain. I am talking about when your life gets to a point where you went from on top of the world to stuck in the bottom of a valley.
The story of Samson is one that we can learn from and use as a tool to guide our daily activities, choices, and decisions so that we can experience life at the top of a mountain rather than lost in a valley.
Here are some simple things to take away from the story of Samson:
1. minor compromises over time lead to major consequences.
While Samson was blessed with super natural strength from God, he made decisions early on that led to losing that strength later on.
When he decided to marry his first wife, a Philistine woman, he compromised his parents wishes. He not only did that, but he lied, deceived, and gambled in the process. By the time they were married, he let the questions and tears of his wife lead him to reveal the riddle that the Philistine's he bet with so badly wanted to solve.
Here is their conversation:
Judges 14:16-18, ESV
And Samson's wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?” She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?”
Compare this moment to his conversation later on with a woman by the name of Delilah.
Judges 16:15-17, ESV
And she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.” And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”
While the secret he revealed to his first wife did not give away the secret to his strength, the secret to Delilah did. This led to him having his eyes plucked out, being chained, mocked, and made to chew grain like an ox.
His first compromise set the tone and direction for how he would act later when he made an even bigger compromise.
Minor compromises over time lead to major consequences.
2. selfish motives distract us from godly motives.
In his book, It's Not Too Late, Tony Evans says, "We too can end up in a place we never imagined possible when we compromise small things and make choices that don't reflect a life set apart to serve and glorify God."*
Samson compromised his commitment to God, his Nazarite Vow, in order to satisfy a woman (his earthly desire). While we may not struggle with the same issue as Samson, we too can let our own desires of the flesh get in the way of the desires of God.
In writing to the church in Galatia, Paul (an early follower of Jesus) says,
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do."**
He tells the people to walk by the Spirit. Later he explains that in living by the Spirit they are able to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These are all powerful traits to exemplify and live by. When we walk with God, he uses the very same power he gave to Samson to help us as well.
The struggle is that we must stay surrendered to God. When Samson gave into the ways of his flesh and broke his vow to God the power that had been given to him was no longer given.
And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison.
The good news is that this was not the end of the story.
"We too can end up in a place we never imagined possible when we compromise small things and make choices that don't reflect a life set apart to serve and glorify God.*" || Tony Evans ||
3. god can do exceedingly more with a surrendered heart than a victorious heart.
Judges 16:28-30 says,
Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.
It is estimated that Samson would have killed 10X more people in this one moment than he did the entire time he was alive.
When he came to a place of complete surrender, when he was completely submitted and humble, God used him to do an incredible thing.
No matter what decisions we have made (or haven't made) God still wants to use us. We may have made some minor compromises that led to major consequences, but it is not too late to be used by God. Hit the reset button. Surrender to God. He can help you get back to life at the top of that mountain. But when you are living at the top of the mountain, still remember God is much bigger than anything (even a mountain) and we are to stay submitted to Him.
|| challenge ||
* Evans, Tony. It's Not Too Late. p. 136
** Galatians 5:16-17, ESV