Dr. Larry Petton tells the story, “A well-known author once told this story of an account he had with seagulls: “Several years ago our family visited Niagara Falls. It was spring, and ice was rushing down the river. As I viewed the large blocks of ice flowing toward the falls, I could see that there were dead fish embedded in the ice. Gulls by the score were riding down the river, feeding on the fish. As they came to the brink of the falls, their wings would go out, and they would escape from the falls. “I watched one gull which seemed to delay and wondered when it would leave. It was engrossed in the fish, and when it finally came to the brink of the falls, out went its powerful wings. The bird flapped and flapped and even lifted the ice out of the water, and I thought it would escape. But it had delayed too long so that its claws had frozen into the ice. The weight of the ice was too great, and the gull plunged into the abyss.”
How sad that even though the bird had plenty of time to fly away, it paid the ultimate price because it delayed. Now think of this story in terms of the Christian life. When we become overly enthralled with the things of this world, we lose sight of what lies ahead, and we can be brought down as we “fish” for the things of lesser meaning than our overall well-being.
That story and scenario are a perfect visual for what happened in Samson’s life. As Scripture gives us an overview of the life of Samson from his birth to his death, things start with the realization that Samson’s conception was a blessing from God as a result of his mother's prayers. His parents declared over their home that their child would be in a covenant with God upon his first breath. As part of this covenant, Samson was never to be in a relationship with a woman not of his faith. However, Samson disobeys and enters into an intimate relationship with a pagan woman named Delilah.
Pagans were the enemy of God. And, that truth quickly proves itself in Delilah’s life as she is bribed with money to help Samson’s enemies bring him to destruction. She is paid to find out where the source of Samson’s power originated. Samson misleads Delilah, playfully telling her a lie about how he can be defeated…and even though several red flags are raised...he is so overcome by lust that he can’t see them.
Lust can make us blind – and if may be so bold, stupid – because it distorts our ability to discern what is happening. That’s why people wreck their whole world for a one-night stand or lose everything they’ve worked for to get just one more hit from a drug. Lust desires a feeling that one does not presently have, and if the fire in one’s flesh becomes intense enough, one of the first things it consumes is our rationale.
I encourage you to be ready in advance for such setups from the enemy. Invite the Holy Spirit to gift you with the discerning of spirits. Because throughout your life, you are going to meet the same spirits repeatedly. Names and faces will change, but personalities will stay the same, and you need to be aware of many of these ill-intentioned personalities at hello!
A secondary element of the covenant between God and Samson also indicates that he was never to allow his hair to be cut. But after he betrayed this commitment with confession to Delilah, she had the seven locks of his hair shaved while he was asleep. When he woke up surrounded by Philistine soldiers, he wrongly anticipated that God would bail him out again. Samson thought he was above the rules. He reached a place in his spiritual journey where he evidently thought the conditions of the covenant were not required for him. He was too strong, famous, and powerful to have to abide by regulations that would have applied to anyone else in covenant with God.
What happens next is devastating:
And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him. -Judges 16:20 (NKJV)
Those might be the saddest words in the Old Testament. To think that a man who was used so profoundly could become so distant from God that he lost any sense of God’s departing presence. So deceived was he that he didn’t even realize when God was fully removed from his life.
The enemy soldiers took him captive. He was then enslaved and mocked endlessly. They made him perform, like a jester, for their amusement.
The number one way to live a meaningless life is to become a performer. Performing for others in your career, church, home, and marriage has no meaning. Acting and performing for others is empty and done in vain. We see this all the time in modern-day Christianity. Meaning gets lost because we ignore the covenant of God. Haven’t you seen the performance-oriented, concert-style venue with a speaker offering a motivational talk with only a slight God slant? All performance, little meaning, and yet we wonder why true transformation isn’t taking place.
If you want to lead a meaningful life, you don’t just go to a small group, lead a prayer group, or throw money in a bucket to perform – it must have meaning. Your serving must come from the foundation of a powerful prayer life. Let it bubble up from a personal and intimate relationship with God.
You can not – WE can not – settle for performance.
Scripture shows Samson’s hair grows back, but he is found performing for the enemy. Why is he unable to break free? Why is he settling for just being a performer? I believe this verse answers the question.
Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes, and took him down to Gaza…they set him to grinding grain in the prison. -Judges 16:21 (NIV)
The first thing the enemy did was take out his eyes because they knew if his strength came back, it wouldn’t matter as long as he couldn’t see what he was swinging at. Solomon hath wisely shared:
Where there is no vision, the people perish… -Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
Thankfully, Samson eventually prays the second prayer of his life and cries out to God, asking God to make the enemy pay for every day he had spent without vision:
Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance… for my two eyes!” -Judges 16:28 (NKJV)
Maybe you lack vision, as you are distracted by life's current events. Right now, ask God to give you a vision for your family, allowing you to see the unseen and know the unknown. Ask Him for wisdom in areas where you have lacked it. Ask for a God idea, not just a good idea.
We must realize the strength that God gave us is not meant for performance; it is intended to impact the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth and push back the powers of darkness, putting the enemy in his place. God’s got something MORE for you than simply performing for the amusement and pleasure of others. Never settle for a lifestyle of hypocritical performance – that approach will only lead to a downward spiral in your life and a life without meaning.
Samson’s life reveals we must live prayerful lives, seeking God for discernment, because being a performer never leads to meaningfulness. All the while, we must have the vision to keep moving forward. Walking out these things in our own lives will lead to a meaningful life, a life well-lived:
Pray for the gift of the DISCERNING of spirits.
Refuse to settle for PERFORMANCE.
Never live a day without VISION.
I invite you to view this message in its entirety at this link: https://youtu.be/yQcFRq9R8Dk
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