This year Ready for the Road Ahead is taking on a new direction. It is one that follows the grand theme of sight in all aspects which runs throughout Scripture. My weekly writings will be excerpts from a book of the same name which should be published (Lord willing) later this year.
Although it sounds strange there is a certain amount of seeing that goes on with one’s equipment even before the picture is taken. You have to see that it’s well-maintained and properly cared for so that when your finger hits the shutter the camera takes the picture the way you want it to. Camera manufacturers will tell you the best way to do this. However if you decide not to follow their instructions the resulting effects are on your shoulders if the camera breaks down. You can complain all you want, but no manufacturer will honor the warranty if you’re the one who caused the problem. Thankfully God is much more gracious in these matters and the Book of Judges is a prime example of that.
If there ever was a life that was filled with all the wrong choices it could be argued that Samson holds the title. When he was born his mother dedicated him to the Lord but as a young adult Samson headed in the completely opposite direction. He was compulsive, impetuous, quick-tempered and lustful. The only thread of obedience to God’s law he continued to follow was the Nazarite requirement of not cutting his hair (Num. 6:1-8). But all that changed when he became enamored with a woman named Delilah. Delilah eventually discovered that the key to Samson’s amazing strength was his hair (although it was merely a symbol of the power God bestowed upon him). Delilah figured out a way to cut Samson’s hair without him knowing it and rendered Samson powerless against his foes. They gouged out Samson’s eyes and threw him in prison. After all those years of following after whatever he saw Samson could no longer see anything. Apparently his captors were quite smug about their victory and never bothered to keep that hair trimmed while they held him captive. I believe two things happened while Samson was their prisoner. The first and most natural event was that his hair grew back. But the second and more important was most likely a great deal of personal reflection. In that dank and disgusting prison of captivity God birthed a new passion in Samson. Not the passions that drove Samson for the bulk of his life, but a passion to restore and bring honor to God’s Name through his life. His final prayer before “bringing down the house” was that his sight be avenged. It carries a double meaning of both physical and spiritual sight and God honors his request (Jud. 13-16). The men who took away Samson’s sight lose theirs as well (as well as their lives) and in the final act of his life Samson causes his enemies to see that God is the ultimate Judge.
Even though everything eventually breaks down according to the Law of Entropy and life seems to have some sort of natural planned obsolescence, nature also proves that life can spring forth out of decay. I’m always fascinated with what ends up growing out of the wood which has been cut and stacked for our wood burning stove. One would think that since it’s no longer attached to a living tree it would have no value other than to use as fuel. But somehow little spores and sprouts manage to gain some nutrients from those logs and if I’m inspecting the wood for a photo opportunity I can often find little mushrooms or plants popping up in the softer spots. To me they become a symbol of how God can cause growth in those times when I recognize my poor eyesight has put me in a spot of death and decay. Just like the people in the Book of Judges I have done things in the way I think is right but it’s only brought me to a place of oppression (Jud. 16:5). I cry out to the Lord for help. The Great Deliverer answers me by pushing up a new sprout out of that soft spot. Like the prolific psalmist David I could name countless times the Lord has done this. He is compassionate beyond measure (Ps. 18; 28; 34; 40 and more!).
When I look at those little plants pushing their way up through the decaying wood on my wood pile and think about the transformation in the life of Samson I’m encouraged. My vision may be impaired from time to time as seen by my poor choices, but my God is also loving and forgiving. I know that He can take those places of decay and death and bring them to life because I’ve seen Him do it numerous times before. No matter how many times I’ve failed He never has. His warranty of forgiveness and compassion is everlasting. I’ll take that kind of warranty any time (Rom. 6:15-19; 17:21-25; 1 Cor. 15:50-57; 2 Cor. 14-16; Rev. 21:5-7)!
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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