Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Painful Lessons

     Through the years, I have repeatedly had run-ins with knives and other sharp objects.  It started in childhood when I was stitched up three times near my left eye for various falls - twice on steps and once on a roll away bed.  Then, there was the time when my mother was running the vacuum cleaner and could not hear me knocking on the door.  So I decided to pound with my open hand on the glass panel.  Guess what?  My hand went through the glass requiring more bandages.
       If my parents had thought I would outgrow this careless streak, they were  wrong.  Over the years of our marriage, I have managed to cut myself numerous times on knives as I was chopping up food for an evening meal.  Then, this past week, I was in a hurry to shave my legs with a new razor only to remove considerable skin on my right ankle.  Finally, yesterday while looking for an item in my refrigerator, I knocked a glass jar off a shelf  and onto the floor where it broke in a million pieces cutting my foot.  Need I say more?  I merely asked my dear husband for a bandaid as I always do.  Some might call me accident prone, but I think many of my mishaps happen because I am in a hurry and do not take the time to exercise caution.  Lack of care in the Christian life can also lead to some painful consequences.
       In Judges 13-16, we read the story of a Judge named Sampson.  From birth, he was dedicated to the Lord as a Nazarite.  He was not to drink wine and could not cut his hair for
the rest of his life.  Unfortunately, Sampson did not always listen to the voice of the Lord.  He went after a Philistine wife making his parents unhappy with such a choice.  This relationship was not God honoring but the Lord used it to stir up anger in Sampson whereby he would kill many Philistines.  His final downfall, though, came when he met the Philistine woman named Delilah.  She pleaded with Sampson to tell her the secret of his strength.  Little did he know that she was in league with the Philistines who wanted to destroy his strength.
       After much coaxing, Sampson told Delilah the secret of his strength.  While he was asleep, she cut his hair and allowed the Philistine soldiers to take him captive.  Without his long hair, he was as helpless as any other man.  The Philistines blinded him and put him to work grinding grain.  However, Sampson's strength was returning as his hair grew long again.  Isn't it amazing how God gives us a second chance?
        When the Philistines took Sampson to a celebration at their Temple to Dagon, he prayed that God would allow his strength to rise up again so that he might destroy this Temple and die with these people.  The Lord heard and answered that request.  Many Philistines died that day, but so did Sampson.  So what can we glean from this story of his life?
         First, we need to think about Sampson's willfulness.  If he had followed God's direction for holy living, he might have been able to avoid the heartache of a broken marriage as well as his many bloody encounters with the Philistines. Yes, God worked in spite of Sampson's willful attitude, but things could have been dealt with much differently and with less loss of life.
         Secondly, Sampson should have been more cautious in whom he confided.  He trusted a Philistine woman named Delilah with the secret of his strength.  Just like me rushing through my evening meal preparation while using a sharp knife, Sampson hurried into this relationship with Delilah.  He did not exercise restraint or wisdom.  This led to his downfall.  Sampson paid a heavy price for his lack of caution.
         Despite his less than stellar character,  God was able to use Sampson one final time.  In an act of grace, God restored his strength so that Sampson was able to kill many Philistines and save the people of Israel.  How much easier it could have been if he had been careful to obey God.
         I have to admit that I would not cut myself nearly as often if I would take time to exercise caution and watch what I am doing.  People like me keep Johnson and Johnson in business making bandaids, steri strips and ointments.  Trust me the lessons I learn in lack of care with a knife are painful.  Sampson learned the hard way too, but God has a way planned for all who trust in Him.  If we will follow Him in obedience, we will reap blessings without the pain that comes from doing things our way.  Selah!

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