Remember Me

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“Lord, Eternal One, remember me” (Judges 16:28, The Voice).

I was reading a very familiar passage about Samson and Delilah when I saw something I had never seen before. It almost literally jumped out of the page.

The story may or may not be familiar. Samson was a Nazirite and a Judge over the people of Israel. Basically, a Nazirite was someone dedicated to God from birth who had certain restrictions, like no alcohol, no haircuts, no touching dead bodies. As a judge, he essentially ruled over the Israelites. He had extraordinary strength and could not be bound by any ropes or chains.

Most of the time, he was ruled by his appetites. He saw what he liked and went after it, no matter what the consequences. Even though God said for His people to have nothing to do with the Philistines, Samson continually wooed their women and spent time in their cities.

Then Delilah showed up. She agreed to betray Samson into the hands of the Philistine rulers for a hefty sum, or a king’s ransom, you might say. Of course, Samson fell in love with her.

She asked three times how he could be bound. Three times he fibbed. You would have thought he’d catch on to her motives but apparently his love blinded him to her wiles.

Finally, she nagged him to the point where he gave in. You can probably figure out that she got her reward and Samson got captured. He ended up with his eyes gouged out, working at the grindstone as a slave, reduced to a joke.

Samson’s very last actions were his best ones. The Philistines brought him out to taunt and mock him in a celebration to their god, Dagon. He ended up between the two main pillars of the temple. He prayed one last prayer for strength and pushed out the pillars, toppling the temple and killing everyone inside, himself included.

I’d never paid much attention to his last prayer. “Remember me.” Suddenly, it dawned on me. I remembered someone else in the Bible whose last words were the same. It was the  thief on the cross next to Jesus who said, “Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.”

Such a beautiful prayer that says so much in so few words. It’s not so much that God has forgotten who we are but that we’ve forgotten who He is.

It’s a declaration of dependence, an acknowledgement of great need. It says to God, “I’m unworthy to ask but still I know you are a gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love. Come to my aid and save me.”

The Bible is still living and active. God still speaks through His word to those with ears to hear. Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening.

 

Going Through the Motions

“Then she let him fall asleep on her lap and called a man to shave off the seven braids on his head. In this way, she made him helpless, and his strength left him. Then she cried, ‘Samson, the Philistines are here!’ When he awoke from his sleep, he said, ‘I will escape as I did before and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had left him” (Judges 16:19-20, Christian Standard Bible).

“But he did not know that the Lord had left him.” That may be one of the saddest statements in the entire Bible. Samson had come to trust in the gift– his hair– rather than the Giver. His hair wasn’t what made him strong. It was only a symbol of the command God had given him much earlier.

He had come to rely on his strength and not in the God who gave him that strength. In the end, God wasn’t even so much as an afterthought in Samson’s mind.

Sometimes, I wonder if this could ever apply to the Church.

We sometimes rely so much on high production values, musicianship, and charisma that we’ve left little to no room for the Holy Spirit to work and move. If God suddenly removed His Spirit from our worship services, would we even notice? Would it make any difference?

It’s one thing to be able to manipulate people’s emotions by overwhelming them through powerful songs and dramatic preaching, but that’s not always synonymous with the moving of God’s Spirit.

What if you took away the comfortable chairs and the modern facilities? What if you took away the professional lighting and sound system? What if there was no worship band or charismatic speaker?

Would God’s Word be enough? Could we still sense the Spirit moving without all the sensory overload?

The saddest testimony about the modern Church would be that the Spirit of God one day left and we went about our business as usual and didn’t even know it until it was far too late.