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Failure and Redemption

May 7th, 2012

“Samson prayed . . ‘Remember me, O God . . strengthen me just once more.’ Judges 16:28 NIV

“If you entertain a wrong appetite for a moment, you may struggle for a lifetime.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “failure and redemption.”

Everybody likes a success story of someone who hits the bottom and fights their way back. Business and sports are filled with such stories, as have been a few marriages and prodigals – individuals who had a golden opportunity, squandered it badly then realized their wasted opportunity, changing their ways before it was too late. Samson’s story is one of those.

Samson is the poster child for failure and redemption. Usually people are prone to linger longer on the down side of a person’s record. Preachers tend to do that with Samson. See Judges 13-16. Why do we have such a fascination with one another’s failures? Heaven weeps over moral and spiritual failures – whether public or private – while we are drawn to read every lurid record of others flaws and failures. And such stories are not hard to come by – politicians in scandals, celebrities in rehab or jail, athletes using performance enhancing drugs, law enforcement breaking laws, corporate leaders ravaging shareholders’ trust, or ministers living immodestly or impurely.

Samson would have been on the front page of the tabloids, big news in the worst ways. Why would he entangle himself in wrong relationships and be attracted to harmful things, distracted from what he should have prized more highly? A valuable life-lesson is this: if you entertain the wrong appetite even for a moment, you can end up struggling with it for a lifetime. How could someone start so miraculously with prophecy and promise spoken over them, yet get himself into such compromising situations?

Samson had Godly parents and a great beginning. He was called by God as a deliverer, blessed with unusual spiritual and physical strength. But he chose to companion with the ungodly Philistines, consort with harlots, use his strength and gifts for others’ amusement, and broke sacred vows to his parents, nation, and God. But there is always a price to be paid – often a very high price, occasionally in a very great and public shame.

As a young teen, I heard my Dad quote a Scripture that caught my attention, “You may be sure your sins will find you out.” Numbers 32:23 NIV. There have been moments in my life when the Holy Spirit has whispered that verse to my heart when I needed to hear it most, and for which I am grateful. Solomon wrote, “Through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.” Proverbs 16:6 NIV.

Like Jesus’ story of the Prodigal – and stories of a lot of others, such as Abraham, Moses, Jonah, Saul, David, Simon Peter, Paul – Samson’s story ended up in Heaven’s history book, not in trashy tabloids. Read Hebrews 11:32. The end of his story was told in the language of God’s grace, not his own shame. Just like yours may have been, or could still be. That’s why they call grace amazing! Samson’s ultimate comeback was greater than his public collapse.

Samson remembered his beginnings and prayed, “Lord, remember me, and strengthen me once more . . thus he killed many more [Philistines] when he died than while he lived.” Judges 16:28/30 NIV. And the Lord remembered Samson; He will do the same for you! God doesn’t throw you away when you feel like you have, or others would. He remembers you, when you remember Him. In God’s love, there remains a place of grace for you.

My prayer for you today is that you never forget there is a path home to God’s grace.

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