[These are honest questions asked with genuine reverence and some honest frustration] "Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face" - Job 13:15
"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:16
Samson was famous for his strength and the the source of his strength was God. God told his parents when he was conceived not to let a razor touch his hair. So when Samson allowed Delilah to cut his hair he lost his strength as a result.
I believe his strength was a result of acknowledging where his strength came from. His hair was just a physical representation of that acknowledgment. Soon as he got comfortable with his strength, almost thinking that it was his own strength, he allowed her to cut it off. The minute that he thought that he could have his strength without God, he cut off his hair and lost that strength.
I think this applies to us, not physical strength but our spiritual strength, when life gets too hard or especially when temptation gets too thick, we need to draw our strength from God. We need to depend on Him to get us out of the fog.
Sounds wonderful doesn't it?
I know there are a million Christians that could have wrote this blog. We know to depend on God and to "put on Christ".
Please don't take this the wrong way, but one of the things that I hate the most is when I'm going through a hard time, a dark night of the soul or deep temptation is when some Christian comes up to me and says "put on Christ" or something incredibly vague like that. I know it's Biblical, but does anyone want to explain to me how to do that?
I've had some honest prayers about this question and thank God I can approach the throne with honest questions. In great humility and fear I wept and prayed "God, please Lord, let me ask you as a friend, dear Lord let me put my foot in my mouth, let me speak, let me hear my words and your corrections". Then I unleashed. I begged for God to tell me how the heck do you put on Christ and all that other stuff people keep telling me. I'm so sick of getting told what I need to do with no instruction of how to do it! There's no online tutorial of some kid on youtube, with a headset microphone that's too close to his mouth to get good audio, telling me how to do it. I know what I need to do, I want to do this, I want to do what I need, I desire to do this, but I don't know how. Putting on my pants is so much easier, I know how to do that. So how do I put on Christ? Do I just zip it up like a hoody? Dear Lord, have mercy on me, seriously, have mercy on me. I don't mean any disrespect, but I want you to know how difficult this sounds for me. I have shaved my head to the skin. I have removed your strength from my head until my skull is beginning to get damaged. So what do I do?
I can't just instantly grow my hair back. It'll take time. I've ran from God's strength and need to walk back with my tail between my legs. I'm so ashamed at the way my head looks with no hair, my ears stick out and I have a ton of bumps on my head. I want this hair back. His strength covers so much of my flaws. I cannot even make one hair on my head turn grey.
So how do I grow it back? Just wait? Try my best to not cut it again? In Samson's last hour he prayed for strength, without any hair, God gave Him strength. In the end his hair wasn't his strength, this is important, it's knowing where his strength came from.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible happens to be in the same book that the story of Samson is in, Judges. The story of Gideon. Gideon, was told by God to take his army of 22,000 soldiers eventually down to 300 soldiers. God's reason was so that Israel couldn't boast when they won the war, they'd have to give glory to God. Because people have won many wars with 22,000 soldiers, but armies with 300 soldiers don't win wars. Even in the movie "300" they lost: spoiler alert (I guess your supposed to say spoiler alert first huh?).
If you haven't gotten a chance to read the Bible yet, I'll sum up one of the many points that it makes: God is for his glory and He gets it. The best way for us to acknowledge what He has done is to realize where we were at first.
One of my other favorite stories in the Bible is in John 9. The story of the blind man. People asked Jesus "why was this man born blind" and Jesus said "for my glory" and Jesus heals him. People marveled, nobody could explain it away. If the man was blind for a few days, then Jesus healed him, people could say that it was something that he ate. He was born blind so by the time Jesus healed him, the man, his family and the town has declared him hopeless. Maybe that family did so many different remedies and vitamins to give him sight at a young age, but there came a time they gave up. "This is just how he is" I'm sure they thought at a certain point. There came a point that everyone in town knew that man had 300 soldiers and couldn't win and he said "all I know is that I was blind, but now I see".
When people accept that they cannot win, when they have tried everything on their own, when they are stuck on their own strength, that's when God comes through.
Jesus hangs out at the end of our rope. Waiting for us to get there. It's probably best if we realize early that we don't have much rope.
Sounds wonderful doesn't it?
I know there are a million Christians that could have wrote this blog. We know to accept our flaws and acknowledge our shortcomings.
I don't want to finish this blog yet. I feel like I'm still at the surface. I don't know, I really don't know how this will end. You might be able to feel some of the frustration in my writing. It's because I'm sick of getting to this very point and stopping. I pull out the weeds but fail to get the roots.
So we get our strength from God. We get that by acknowledging that it's not our strength and that we are weak without him. So do we give up and just let our hair grow back, since we have no power to grow it ourselves?
Listen, I've 'given up' before. I mean I've stopped trying. In keeping with these analogies, I used to try to add one or two more soldiers to my army, so I'd have 302 men. But even adding a few takes away from God's glory, because then I would be able to say "It was getting a little hairy on the battle-field but good thing I added Ed and Kirk to my army, that saved us". We do this with the gospel so much, try to add onto it. Jesus saved us by his blood, purchased us fully to be sons of God and we keep trying to pay for the tip.
I know Jesus paid for us in full, but here I am trying so hard not to sin like my salvation depends on it. I've done this for so long. Trying to live a certain way to earn my salvation. Now I'm on the side where I just "gave up" trying to earn my salvation. Where I don't even try to work out my sanctification. What a head trip! I could sit you down for dinner and make it sound so simple. "Our justification, our right standing before God is paid for by Jesus Christ and him alone and our sanctification, the working out our faith and holiness, is by our works". I've got that memorized. I could give you this point and that point to make it seem so simple. But then I turn into the very Christian that has been frustrating me so much. The ones that have some 'simple answer' to my problems. It might be a true answer, but can we all stop pretending this is simple?
"Put on Christ" ok, I agree, how? "Look to the cross" ok, I agree that our faith is central to the cross of Christ, but how do I look to something that isn't physically there? If you told me to "look at that tree" I could do that! You are asking me to look to something that isn't there. Don't get me wrong, I believe it was there, it was physical, but the cross of Christ isn't necessarily on the other side of the room right now. So maybe I look at a cross, I draw the cross shape, maybe I wear a necklace with a cross on it, maybe even get a tattoo on my hand or somewhere that I can look to in any difficult time? But I've tried that. I've even tried picturing Jesus on the cross, maybe a few scenes from the Passion. No dice, didn't work, still fell. Even if I didn't fall, I would be able to say "I sure did get out of that by using the great imagination that I've got".
I guess I'm just using 1,600+ words to ask: How do you put on Christ? How do you depend on God? How do you "let go and let God"? How do you focus on the cross?
Maybe it's just admitting first that you've tried everything and at this point, if I get out of this, it wasn't my own strength, because I've tried that before?
I praying to my Lord Jesus Christ that there is a part two to this blog...