Healing Power

Running commentary on how Jesus' Healing Power is affecting my life - and helping me to help others.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Great Divide

Delilah said to Samson, "Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued."
Samson answered her, "If anyone ties me with seven fresh thongs that have not been dried, I'll become as weak as any other man."
Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh thongs that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. With men hidden in the room, she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" But he snapped the thongs as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
Then Delilah said to Samson, "You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied."
He said, "If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I'll become as weak as any other man."
So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads.
Delilah then said to Samson, "Until now, you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied."
He replied, "If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I'll become as weak as any other man." So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric and tightened it with the pin.
Again she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.
Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven't told me the secret of your great strength." With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death.
So he told her everything. "No razor has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man."
When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, "Come back once more; he has told me everything." So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.
Then she called, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!"
He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him.
Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison. But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
- Judges 16:1-22, NIV

I want you to notice two things in the passage above; the first in bold, the second italicized. These are the keys to this post. You must read them in context for them to mean anything.

Samson was known for being the strongest man who ever lived. Notice, though, that even he was weak when subject to his wife's nagging. But I already digress...
Samson was the last of the judges of Israel. With God working in Samson's life, through his hands and feet, God showed the Philistines who was boss. Problem was, God's tool (Samson) was a tool. He did not know who was boss. His pride, jealousy and lust consumed him and turned him from the man God wanted him to be. Samson was literally sleeping with the enemy (he married two Philistine women). And one of those women proved to be his downfall.

I amaze myself sometimes. Last Friday, I had a mountaintop experience which I had to post. And Saturday I fell off the cliff on the backside of that mountain into the pit again. It got so bad that on Sunday my wife asked me about commitments to the Lord. I told her that I didn't believe God was going to help us the way He said He would. Man, I'd just heard Him tell me that all was going to work fine, then I turn around and call Him a liar. How low can I get?

Monday, I felt like a man who'd just called God a liar. I felt like something a little lower than snail tracks. But it doesn't stop there! Oh, no! Then I start getting all mixed up with gossip at work, and greed tried to grab hold. Not to mention the visual temptations that are always around in every day life!

But he did not know that the LORD had left him.

Tuesday night and Wednesday came the final test, however. My daughter was up all night sick with a stomach virus. My wife stayed up with her, but whenever the sheets got messed up, I helped fix them. I called in sick at work because of it. But it drove a point home to me. People are created to be disgusting. Nothing smells quite so bad as vomit (a point to which my friend Sean Palmer can attest). If you ever get the feeling that you are a god, go sit in a public restroom for a little while. Either yourself or someone else will definitely illustrate that you are not.


But I digress - again.

What's this got to do with Samson? This afternoon I definitely had the feeling that God had left me and I didn't even know it. I mean, there I was - on top of the mountain with Him - and my mortal enemy sneaks up and pushes me over the edge. Still, rather than go to bed tonight feeling like a waste of God's time, I went to church. I went with remorse in my heart and looking for a change in my mind. I was not disappointed.

The lesson tonight was from Colossians. As I typically do, though, when a preacher asks us to open our bibles to Colossians 1, I tend to start reading then miss most of what he says. It's a good thing I did, though.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
- Colossians 3:1-11, NIV

Or, as the Message relays verse 1: So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. See, I haven't been acting like I was serious about it. Yeah, every now and again I allow the Spirit to rule in my life. But for the most part I just live for me.

Now back to Samson. you'll notice that after he was put to work in the grist mill, blind and shackled, something happened. I italicized it when I copied it here. His hair started to grow back. This must be important - it's an obvious thing that's mentioned in the bible. All Americans, men and women alike, know that hair will grow back after it's been shaved. Whether it's your scalp, face, legs or armpits, hair will grow back. It's something everyone knows. Yet the writer of the book of Judges wanted us to know about it.

Samson's hair returning was symbolic of God returning to Samson. A little bit at first, then more and more. Finally, one day, when he was paraded in like a bear in a circus, he prayed asking God to bring back his strength one more time. His final act was another of God's judgments on the Philistines. And he couldn't have done it if God was not with him.

No matter what we've done when we feel that God has left us, He still wants to come back. Where are you right now? Do you feel like God has left you? Remember that even when you shave God off from you, He will still come back. There's no escaping Him. All I need to do now is the hard part. Give it all to Him and stop trying to fight him. Won't you join me?

Prayer

Almighty heavenly father, through whose hands all was created and through whose love life was brought to bear. We praise your holy and magnificent Name. Thank you so much for all you've done for us and in us and through us. Thank you for the roofs over our heads. Thank you for the food in our bellies. Thank you for the jobs you've provided that we can continue to eat and be sheltered. Without you, none of this would be possible.

Father, tonight we come before you confessing that we are unwilling to turn over our own individuality, our identity, our being - the being you gave to us in the first place - in order that your name may be praised. It should be such a simple matter, "God, take over my life." Yet, when we try it, our pride and ego gets in the way.

Help us to rise over our pride. Help us to rise up that we may submit to you. Help us to be lofty by humbling ourselves. Remind us that you will never leave us, but that we need to work to stay near you.

And, most of all, turn up the volume when you're trying to steer us from temptation!

In Jesus' holy name we pray,
Amen.

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