Your Spiritual Workout
Have you ever attempted attempted to be stronger by doing something that you know is godly? Prayer, study, serving, attending church, and living sacrificially are all godly and biblical. The thing is that many of us have taken the route to do these practical things only to end up falling prey to the guilt and shame of being weak and caving in. There's a mystery to godly strength. I'm going to share an example of that from a very familiar bible story. It has been very helpful to know. Let's unpack it.
You've probably heard the story about Samson and Delilah. Just in case you haven't, here's a brief summary highlighting our topic.
Samson was a Nazarite. He is known for his mighty strength. He killed a lion with his bare hands. In a fit of rage he killed 30 men. On several occasions upon being tied up, broke the ropes like they were brittle leaves. He also slew 1,000 men with nothing more than a jawbone.
There was one mystery that confused all his enemies. They asked, "Where is this man's strength coming from?" You can read the full story online here. (Judges 13-16)
Artwork subtly exposes how the artist interprets scripture. To this day artwork, like the picture used for this article, have misinterpreted what is written and many people mistakenly assume that Samson looks similar to the depiction of him. In that, we are interpreting scripture by what we see. Since faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word-especially the word that is written, we should examine the story. What we find in scripture about Samson shows something often overlooked about Samson's strength, the godly strength that can be helpful as we all seek strength and desire to be stronger.
The four instances above clearly include a show of strength that is miraculous. It caused men and women alike to marvel. Thus, over the years artists have interpreted Samson's strength leaving out one thing that the story includes in every version of the bible- the Spirit of the Lord. All four occasions mentioned above start with, "The Spirit of the Lord came..." There's an additional instance that I'll mention later but for now let's look at the mystery of godly strength and how the things we do practical turn to the miraculous.
Now it's not to say that Samson didn't have muscles. It is say that it Samson could not have had muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Otherwise, his adversaries would not have been so mystified about where his strength came from. Further, it's not to say that he didn't do something practical. He commenced in a very practical way. He used his hands and his physical strength. It is to say that what he did in a practical way he did by the Spirit of the Lord. The practical act with the Spirit of the Lord is what led to the miraculous result. Samson did the practical. God did the miraculous.
Now let's look at the that other instance. In this instance, Samson was chained to the two pillars in the basement that held up the house where his enemies were partying above his head mocking him. The scriptures give yet another example of where his strength came from saying, "Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me..." Samson used his strength to pull these pillars out of place and the house came crashing down. It is also noted, "So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime." Judges 16:30
This is where our stories connect. I've fought many enemies over the years. Depression, fear of failure, rage, perplexity, rejection, compulsive behavior, and self hate are just a few of the enemies that have had their way with me. They've in a sense, been like the enemies partying over my head, mocking me while I, like Samson, was chained to two pillars in the basement. No matter how hard I pulled I couldn't get free. I prayed, studied, served, went to church, and lived sacrificially trying to muscle through it and get free. Then I realized that I was leaving the most important part out of these practical actions- the Lord God Himself.
Did you know you can do very godly things without trusting God in them? Did you know that you can even pray and not believe God? It is true. I've done it.(Sometimes I still do) I've done all of these practical things and somehow trusted in the godly thing and not God Himself. Like the misinterpretation of strength in the picture, I've misinterpreted godly strength to come from something I can see. I can see myself praying. I can see myself serving, going to church, and living studying but the strength I need to overcome my enemies doesn't come from those things. It comes from God. I had to learn to discipline my thoughts and be resolved in every practical thing I do. It's a discipline I learned the hard way.
This is the case for many of us. We know the practical things we need to do but somehow forget that we do the practical and God does the miraculous. We don't deal with our enemies by prayer, study, going to church, or even fasting. I know that sounds sacrilegious but what caused the misinterpretation in that picture? Leaving out the most important fact-faith in God. How many of us pray with a clear resolve that God will help? That we are praying to the One who hears and cares and will supply all our need? I know I'm no different than anyone else in this. We all have done it. We've done practical things and forgotten the miraculous God. That leads to having no hope in godly things.
Well, let's allow Samson's story speak to us and teach us that it wasn't his muscles. It was God. May that bring you hope in all the godly things you do. Remember God in your godly routines. Remember Him when you pray. When you study. When you worship. When you sing. When you serve. He's nearer than He ever was.
"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; "
May God Himself bless and keep you in all that you do for His name.
In His Grace,