You And I Both Need To Fail

Posted by Craig Borlase on 17 August 2016

There's a story in the Bible about a time when the Israelites were in trouble, locked in a repeating cycle of rebellion, judgement and deliverance. The situation was dire, God’s people were under as oppressive foreign regime. So God picked out a baby to help them.

Samson had quite the weight of expectation upon his shoulders. The early years were promising. 'He grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him…' But things began to go wrong.

He developed an eye for the ladies and a taste for humiliating weaker men. Oh, and there was plenty of killing too. Though his strength is phenomenal and his anointing undeniable, we’re left in no doubt about his failings.

By the time we see him in his final scene, he's a sorry sight.

His strength gone and eyes gouged out, he ends up a mere play thing, an oddity to be wheeled out when the crowd were nicely lubricated on afternoon booze. 'Bring out Samson' they cried 'he's good for a laugh'. And there he is: alone, frail and such an oh-so-long way from the glorious God-shaped vessel that was designed to make people to sit up and take notice.

But his death offers a few surprises. Judges 16:28 offers us the Bible's first and last record of Samson praying. That doesn’t mean he didn't pray, but I suspect that the author could be trying to make a point: Samson - ever the man who followed his own agenda - is finally asking God for help.

“Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.” [Judges 16:30]

Samson’s final days were spent blind, yet his whole life he lacked insight into his own behaviour. He was unable to see that his habit of trusting in his own abilities and giving into his own appetites was second best.

Perhaps there is more of Samson within us than we would like to admit. Perhaps we might not experience quite such an extreme range of highs and lows, but the theme of failing to live up to potential is one that many of us know well.

Samson’s problem – and ours – is not only the presence of sin. It is the lack of basic understanding of just how this whole Christian life is supposed to hand together. We think that our path towards earthly success is a shoo-in, that it is a dead cert that God will take all our best ingredients, sprinkle some divine mojo and make the life we live the Best Life Ever.

It’s true, Samson’s life did contain moments of truly divine intervention when God’s anointing resulted in remarkable acts. But they were God’s divine interventions, works of God’s grace rather than result of personal sacrifice or integrity.

Maybe we're never going to create something as wildly popular as we believe God's anointing in us is capable of. Maybe our story won’t ever be known beyond our friends and family, and - here's a wild one - maybe that won't be a sign of failure.

Like the dead Irish playwright said, ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’

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