Thursday, September 22, 2011

Picture This --

Samson is sitting in s therapist’s office, right after the whole Delilah episode.  See, the prison where the Philistines have put Samson, provides psychological services for the inmates.  Who’d a thunk it?

Anyway, Samson’s sitting there, blind, chained, and humiliated.  His head is in his hands.  “How did I end up here?”  he asks. “I was the strongest, most powerful man in the country.”

The therapist starts his (or her) search, “Well, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?  Tell me the first thing you remember.”

SAMSON: “The first thing?  Hmmm.  That would have to be my mom and dad teaching me the conditions of being a Nazirite; how God had chosen me for a very special purpose.  They told me the same things everyday.”

THERAPIST: “Nazirite?  I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of that before.  Can you tell me more about that?”

SAMSON: “Sorry, I forget that most folks haven’t heard about nazirites.  Anyway, every morning and evening, my parents sat down with me and told me about the day an angel of the Lord came and spoke to my mother.  The angel told her that I was supposed to be a nazirite for my whole life.  That is a person who is set apart for a special job.  My job was to work toward delivering the Jews from the Philistines.”

THERAPIST: “That sounds like a huge responsibility.  What are the conditions of being a nazirite you mentioned?”

SAMSON: “Oh, well, I can’t touch a dead body of any kind; I’m not to drink any wine or strong drink or even have any contact with grapes in it; and I was never supposed to cut my hair.”

THERAPIST: “Oh, well, that last one seems to have been compromised, how did you do on the other two?”

SAMSON: “Funny you should ask.  I guess I spent a bunch of time trying to show God that I was in control of me and that He wasn’t.”

THERAPIST: “You were asserting your independence.  That’s a healthy response to a restrictive home situation.  Experts tell us that…”

SAMSON: “Hey! Whoa, wait a minute.  I didn’t say my home situation was ‘restrictive’.  Those experts don’t know what they’re talking about.”

THERAPIST: “Well, you implied that your parents implemented overly strict rules and expected unwavering adherence to those rules.  That certainly doesn’t sound like a home where you were loved unconditionally.  It appears to me that your parents expected way to much from such a young person and withheld their love when you didn’t attain their expectations for you.”

SAMSON: “Trust me, you don’t understand anything about my parents or me.  I’m the one who messed up here, not them.  And they’ve always loved me, no matter what stupid thing I got myself into.  So, don’t even go there, okay?
“I just thought I could have things both ways.  I kind of wanted to be God’s instrument to free the Jews, but only as long as it didn’t interfere with me having fun, ya know?
“That’s really the whole thing.  I liked the attention I got for being really strong and having long hair.  I liked the attention the girls gave me.  I liked messing with the philistines and tormenting them.  But it looked like being ‘God’s instrument’ was going to be pretty dull.  So, I went to the next town to parties and stuff and had fun.
“When I think about it now, I hate how much I must have made my mom and dad worry.  I was really awful to them.  It breaks my heart.  I wish I could change that.”

THERAPIST:  “So, what will you do now?”

SAMSON:  “Talk to God.  Do the work the best I can, and wait for God to show me what He wants me to do.”

THERAPIST: “God?!  But He’s the reason you’re here, isn’t He?  He let the Philistines capture you and blind you.  Don’t you think it’s time for you to get your own revenge?”

SAMSON:  “Have you been listening to me at all?  God didn’t leave me; I left Him.  I don’t have time to think about revenge.  I just need to find my way back to God.
I think we’re done here.”

Have you ever experienced anything like Samson?  Well, you know, not the tearing apart the lion and killing the Philistines and all, but waking up one morning and realizing that you’re a million miles away from where you thought you were going?   About all you can do is shake your head and wonder how you got there…and how you can get back to where you started going the wrong direction.  It feels like a hopeless situation doesn’t it?  But it’s not.  Samson’s story shows us that it’s never hopeless to try to find God again.  A song that used to be on the Christian radio station (if I could remember anything about it but this one line, I could find it and print all the words for you, but anyway) that said that no matter how far we’ve run away from God, it’s only one step back.  Wow!

Isn’t that amazing?  God doesn’t make us crawl hundreds of miles back to Him or swim great oceans, or fly over canyons; we just have to change our direction…and He’s right there.  What a comfort.

The truth is that He never once abandoned us; we thought we were abandoning Him.  In The Ministry of Healing we read this
“Even when we are in a relationship that is ungodly, God does not abandon us.  Instead, he provides a way of escape from the situation.“Whatever your anxieties and trials, spread out your case before the Lord.  Your spirit will be braced for endurance.  The way will be open for you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty.  The weaker and more helpless you know yourself to be, the stronger will you become in His strength.  The heavier your burdents, the more blessed the rest in casting them upon you Burden Bearer.”
God not only CAN rescue us; He WANTS to rescue us.  And as soon as we are rescued, we are “set apart” for a special purpose.  And, according to an author named David H. Roper, we, like Samson, have three conditions for our “set apart-ness”.  #1–Don’t look back…that part of our lives is dead.  We don’t want to have anything to do with our old lives.  #2–Don’t try to find joy or our sense of well-being anywhere except the spirit of God; not in wine or any other earthly source.  #3–Admit that we are weak beings who cannot do anything except with God’s help. (The nazirites long hair was supposed to by a symbol of weakness.)

Remember this: 
“…for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.”  
And the point is, like with Samson, David, Solomon, Mary Magdalene or you and me, that how many times we fall isn’t nearly as important as how many times we get back up and get back on track with Jesus.  How else could we find Samson’s name in the faith chapter: 
“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”  Hebrews 11:32
“Faith is trusting God--believing that He loves us and knows best what is for our good. Thus,…, it leads us to choose His way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts His wisdom; in place of our weakness, His strength; in place of our sinfulness, His righteousness. Our lives, ourselves, are already His; faith acknowledges His ownership and accepts its blessing. Truth, uprightness, purity, have been pointed out as secrets of life's success. It is faith that puts us in possession of these principles.
“Every good impulse or aspiration is the gift of God; faith receives from God the life that alone can produce true growth and efficiency.“… To every promise of God there are conditions. If we are willing to do His will, all His strength is ours. … As surely as the oak is in the acorn, so surely is the gift of God in His promise. If we receive the promise, we have the gift.     Faith that enables us to receive God's gifts is itself a gift, of which some measure is imparted to every human being. It grows as exercised in appropriating the Word of God. In order to strengthen faith, we must often bring it in contact with the Word.” {Ye Shall Receive Power, p.196}

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