Judges 16:21-22, "Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved."
Judges 16:26-28, "Samson said to the servant who held his hand, ‘Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.' Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. Then Samson prayed to the Lord, ‘Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.'"
In today's reading, we find Samson in a place of defeat. Disobedient to God and off-purpose, he was tricked, blinded, humiliated, bound, and sent to work in prison. As drastic as his condition sounds, though, we're all a little "Samson" when a sin that started with, "Just this once," turns into a repetitive pattern.
The gift of strength left Samson the moment his head was shaved, and the Bible says God left him. Think of his loneliness and remorse! He likely felt he was no longer useful to God. What purpose could he serve now that he was weak and blind? But perhaps one night while he was sitting in a dark cell, he scratched his head and noticed something: The hair on his head had started to grow.
Like a person stumbling around in the dark and finally finding the light switch, Samson realized that he might still be useful to God. Instead of his "just this once" attitude he'd held towards sin, he pleaded with God to be useful "just once more."
Samson prayed, and God responded in a big way - his strength returned one last time. Samson had turned back to God, who used him more powerfully through his repentance than in all his previous actions combined!
If "just this once" has become a slippery slope of repetitive sin in your life, it's time to turn back to God. Repent for your bad decisions - just turn around - and say, "God, I'm ready to serve You once more!"
Think of repentance like a 180-degree turn. When you're stuck in a pattern of habitual sin, you're walking away from God. When you repent, you turn from that sin and start walking towards God. So, as an object lesson, stand in a hallway and picture the sin you're struggling with is one direction, and God is in the other. Physically turn your back on that sin and walk towards God, ready and willing to fulfill His purpose.
Father God, You are my hope and my salvation. Today, help me "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let me run with perseverance the race marked out for me. (Hebrews 12:1)" In Jesus' name, Amen.