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When God Uses Ugly Stories To Help Make Our Own More Awesome

I’ve always kind of avoided the story of Samson in the Bible.


Because I don’t really get it. When he killed that lion and then ate honey from inside its carcass. Eeew. And the riddle and the foxes with burning tails and the whole trusting Delilah with his secret even after she clearly betrayed him over and over and over and over. Duh!

But Pastor Nick and Pastor Bob preached through Samson’s story yesterday, so I had to get over my stuff and listen for God’s purpose. Also, I had to write about it last week for devotions. So there’s that.

I picture Samson as a really tall man with huge hair. He’s chained up and wearing a diaper-like cloth for pants. (Thank you, Sunday school teachers of long ago and your awesome flannel boards, for helping me with that image.)

I also picture grapes. Lots of them. And the sexy Delilah holding him on her lap as she strokes his big huge hair and whispers deceit and other bad things into his ear. (No idea where the grapes fit in, by the way, but they’re in the picture in my head, so I’m just gonna’ go with it.)

As I studied and wrote last week, I asked God my questions about Samson and his story. What’s the deal with this sinner? Couldn’t you have made it a better story? Why’d You include him if he screwed up so badly?

God answered by showing me Samson’s story as it relates to Himself.

Even inside Samson’s all-about-me attitude, God got done what He purposed to do. Kill the Philistines.

Even though Samson lived his whole life in honor of himself, it was never a question of whether or not God would accomplish what He had purposed to do.

The only question at hand was whether or not Samson would live in light of God’s mercy or in spite of it. The truth about Samson is that, even with all that strength, he was always at God’s mercy. God’s purpose was never in question.

The thing that floors me about Samson, about all the leaders God chose throughout the whole book of Judges, is that God used him, used them anyway. Period.

Samson’s self-centered living didn’t mess up God’s plans to kill off the Philistines. His stupid mistrust of all those women did not thwart God’s plans.


God did it anyway.

But Samson’s life could have been so much more awesome if he had just stopped fighting God’s purpose before those last few moments of his life.

Samson lived his entire life fighting the mercy of  God Who only wanted him to know more and better life than he could have ever imagined.

Samson lived his every day smack dab in the middle of regret. Because, until that final day in that house with the pillars, Samson lived with himself at the center of all he did.

I guess I don’t like this story because I want it’s just not nice. I want it to be easier. I think I would like all of God’s people to be pretty and pure and all cleaned-up when God uses them for His purpose. I want their exemplary lives to illustrate what I want to look like. I would really prefer God to made them nice before He fulfills His purposes through them.

Because I want that for me. I want God to clean me up before He uses me to make Him famous. So everyone can see how awesome I am, and I can shine all pretty when they look at me on that stage, in that picture of Today’s Awesome Christian Women You Want to be Just Like.

Truth is, I am so much more like Samson than I care to admit. I want it to be all about me.

But here is the truth I heard yesterday. The one I want to live today. And tomorrow. And in five years when God is still accomplishing His purposes, whether I’m all cracked and weathered or shiny and pretty with cute new clothes.

God will get His stuff done, whether I am on board or not. If I choose to surrender to His mercy, that is awesome! My life will be full of all that He promised. But even if I don’t, God will get done what He wants to get done.

Like Samson standing there between those huge pillars those last few moments of his life, I can look back and see regret. Or I can surrender now. Realizing how utterly at God’s mercy I am. Alive in the full life Jesus came so I could live.

What do you think about ugly stories like this one? Do you like them?

Linking up with my friend Michelle today, where all kinds of people think through the living that God has challenged them to this week.

11 Thoughts on “When God Uses Ugly Stories To Help Make Our Own More Awesome

  1. I kind of do like the ugly stories – they make me feel better about myself and all of my own flaws! 😉 Seriously, though, I love how stories like this one exemplify that God can and will accomplish what he wants to and needs to, in spite of the tremendous flaws of the people he is working with!

    Glad to see you at #HearItUse It this week!

    • Thanks, Michelle! Seriously, I can’t get over the faithfulness God gives to stories like these. And to my story too. Thanks for hosting such a cool linkup. 🙂

  2. dukeslee on November 4, 2013 at 5:15 pm said:

    I love that the Bible includes the ugly stories. I never would have believed a spit-shined version of the story. Thank you for your good words, Brianna.

  3. Yay, you linked up with Michelle. Every time I hear the story of Samson I can’t help but think of my daughter, reading his story from her little hardback story bible through her pacifier. I read it to her so many times she memorized it.

  4. Bria, It’s interesting to think about how Samson’s life would have been different if he would of followed hard after God instead of succumbing to his own desires. I have never thought about that before… What a great story to remember when I am tempted just to do it my way, when I know that God will accomplish His will anyhow….. I’m glad God showed you that little insight!! 🙂 Good stuff!!

    • I have been thinking the same thing lately. I wonder how much better it would have been if he would have just followed God’s way. I mean, God would have still done His thing, but what amazing stuff would Samson have gotten to know? Thanks, Angie.

  5. P.S. I love the whole grapes scenario… I just love ya!!

  6. I truly appreciate these stories, we don’t grow when we think we need to be “like those people who have it all together”. None of us do, and we still have so much to offer

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