2014 – Grand Canyon, AZ
The Bible’s strong man
Judges 14: A young lion came at him, roaring. The Spirit of God came on him powerfully and he ripped it open barehanded.
Samson is the “strong man” of the Bible. When artists depict him, they always draw him as a muscle man. Frankly, I doubt it. Remember that his enemies try to discover the secret of his strength. If he’s built like a super hero they wouldn’t do that. I think he’s of average build and that the only physical characteristic that makes him stand out in a crowd is hair; hair, and lots of it: long, flowing hair on his head and on his face. This guy has never had a razor used on him. His nickname could be “Harry!” The key to his strength is tied into his faithfulness to God. And, in his case, the symbol of that faithfulness is uncut hair. Really, I don’t even see evidence that Samson is always strong. It’s when the “Spirit of God comes on him” that he’s strong. The rest of the time, he’s just an ordinary, hairy guy. Thinking devotionally here, I’m reminded that it’s when the Spirit of God moves in my life that I move into the realm of extraordinary possibilities. I may not be “more powerful than a locomotive” but, when the Spirit of God is directing and empowering, I can do whatever it is the Lord wants me to do.
Take Away: The Lord gives us whatever capability he needs for us to have to accomplish his purposes.
Soaring like eagles
Isaiah 40: Those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles.
Isaiah says that when everything else gives way that “God lasts.” He doesn’t lose interest and he doesn’t grow weary. Everything else can, and will, fail, either intentionally or unintentionally but God never fails. Beyond that, God’s people draw strength from him. We’re still human and because of that we face the frailties of humanity. Still, as we trust in the Lord and lean on him we find strength where it matters the most. The strength to soar like an eagle isn’t strength to win races or ball games. It isn’t strength to never fail in the events of life. It’s spiritual strength to live in a victorious relationship with our Creator even in the face of our humanity. When Isaiah talks about people who run and don’t get tired he’s talking about the race of life. The body wears out and begins to fall apart. Physically, we spend 25 years or so gaining strength and then 50 years giving back, little by little, what we’ve gained. Spiritually though, as we “wait upon God” we finish the race with all the vigor we had at the beginning of it because he renews us day by day. It’s a bit of a paradox, but very often the people we know who on the outside seem to have the least strength are the very ones who “soar like eagles” in spirit.
Take Away: The people of the Lord draw strength from him.
One chapter lives
2 Chronicles 27: Jotham’s strength was rooted in his steady and determined life of obedience to God.
Jotham comes to power before he ascends to the throne. His father Uzziah’s affliction keeps him from running the government and Jotham rules in his father’s place. After seven years of this arrangement, upon the death of Uzziah, Jotham ascends to the throne. He gets high marks in both the 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles accounts of his reign. However, both accounts are rather brief. Jotham does some significant construction and has a couple of major military campaigns. The bottom line of his life is that his “strength was rooted in his steady and determined life of obedience to God.” If a person’s life is to be summed up in one sentence, that’s a pretty good sentence to hear. Words like “strength,” “steady,” determined,” and “obedience of God” leave us wanting to hear more about this good man. One nice thing about the account of Jotham’s life is that there’s no “but…” after the epitaph I’m considering today. I wonder what words will be used to someday describe my life? Unlike Jotham I’ll never be a famous person or a national leader. By the grace of God, though, “steadiness, determination, and obedience of God” is within my grasp. Even people who live “one chapter lives” can make that chapter count for something worthwhile.
Take Away: A life lived for the Lord is a life well lived.