Tuesday, February 07, 2012

A Herculean God

I have been revisiting the Old Testament story of Samson - what a jacked-up dude! Samson had all the God-given potential in the world yet he threw it all away to pursue his own desires. His life reads like a Jerry Springer episode on steroids: sex, debauchery, prostitution, brutality, murder, rebellion, and just about any other sin you can name. Samson's life was marked by a thrilling, supernatural birth, a turbulent self-indulgent life, and a tragic premature death. Samson seemed to make all the wrong decisions in life.

Check out Samson's Herculean destructive life pattern:

- He was constantly in the wrong place
- He was constantly looking for a fix in the wrong way
- He consistently rejected wise counsel 
- He continued down the wrong path even when repeatedly given the opportunity to turn around
- He was far more hormone-driven than Spirit-driven
- He repeatedly compromised his own values and God-commitment for his own pleasure
- He frequently ignored his weaknesses and relied on Himself instead of resting in God

Samson made all the wrong decisions and faced severe consequences for his choices. If you know the story, we find in the last chapter the strongest man in the world is left blind, beaten, and shackled to a grindstone. The man who once struck terror in the hearts of his enemy is a laughingstock.  A man hand-selected by God for greatness is left humiliated and useless. A tragic ending to a potential fairy tale story - so it seems.

Enter God.

Here's the deal with God - He is bigger than our shortcomings. God uses people most of us tend to write off. God often uses the Samsons of the world to demonstrate His radical grace and power. Add Samson to the list of messed-up people God chose to use in a great way: Moses, Noah, David, Paul, Peter, Jacob, Abraham, Rahab, the list goes on and on. The people we tend to judge and dismiss God tends to use. Samson even makes the illustrious Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. Do what? Did the writer of Hebrews actually read the story of Samson? Or just maybe God views people a little different than we are inclined to judge them.

At the end of the story, Samson needed another chance - not a second chance - Samson exhausted his second chance (and third, fourth, twentieth, and hundredth) a LONG time ago. Samson needed a final chance. He needed one more bailout. And that's exactly what God provided. When you read the passage (Judges 16:28), I'm not even sure Samson's motives were pure. He seems more bent on revenge than repentance and yet there he is in the Hall of Faith.

God uses Samson more in his death than He did during the entirety of Samson's life. God takes what appears to be a tragedy and uses it for His glory and to accomplish His divine purpose.

Here's a radical thought: You can make God your last resort and He will still hear and forgive you. God's grace is bigger than your harshest, dirtiest, darkest, most secret, most public, most selfish sin. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is more than enough to cover any type or amount of sin.

God is sovereign. He chose Samson before Samson was born. He chose Samson KNOWING Samson would fail Him time and time again. He chose Samson fully aware Samson's life would be marked primarily not by holy consecration but by hedonistic profligacy. He chose Samson because the story of Samson is not about Samson - it is about a God who pursues, redeems, and uses sinful people for His glory.

What does Samson teach us?
- Sin is destructive. Wrong decisions result in harsh circumstances.
- Right decisions help prevent unnecessary consequences. Make wise choices.
- Grace does not always eliminate consequences (although grace by its nature thwarts consequences).
- God's grace and forgiveness is bigger than our sinful choices - that's what the gospel is all about!

Your life does not have to be marked by sinful choices, but if it is - know Jesus Christ bore the sins of the Samsons of this world on a cross so that they might be forgiven and have life.  Cry out to Him and He will hear and forgive - even if you are blind, beaten, and tied to the grindstone of life.