Twice this morning I have sat down at my workstation to capture a moment of closure.  Ironically it has been exactly 30 years since we began a journey that would eventually lead us to uproot ourselves professionally, leave a newly constructed home and set out on what has been one of the most exciting and productive times of our lives as a couple.  Not sure how all this has felt to my only child, though life seems to be working well for her.

 

Life is about transitions, the word we often use to describe the inevitable adjustments to the constant of change.  What we make of those adjustments can determine long term outcomes, good and bad.  The best response is to move into the flow, which always leads to transformation.

 

As has been the case with my professional life for 44 years, my parallel journey through scripture has always been equally providential in its timing.  This morning I was reading in Judges 13-16, the story of Sampson.  His life both in terms of weakness and calling, have always spoken to me.  Being a visionary, I have often had moments where scriptural stories would literally play on the screen of my mind, providing critical markers, junction points of decision in my life.  Such has been the story of Sampson.

 

Of course everyone would desire their life be marked with heroic acts, like ripping apart a lion or slaying 1000 men with the jawbone of an ass.  That has not been the case, unless perhaps I capitalize on a play on words, referencing the moments where with “foot in my mouth,” the words from my “jaws” have made me appear more like the animal referenced!

 

Once we made the decision to risk all in 1987, and began a journey toward a new town, Winston-Salem, with little promise of exercising our calling, things began to move at a rapid pace.   That is the nature of transformation; all this was affirmed this a.m. as I read through the first few pages of my hard back paper journal, now within months of being a 30 year old document!

 

I have always been a slow learner when it comes to change, a trait one would think unlikely for a visionary.  That comes from a deep commitment to vision (strength that becomes weakness) and loyalties gained over time, which often must slowly erode before one is able to move on.  Pardon my candor, by no means meant to harm but in hopes that this blog, which has now for eight years served as my journal, will somehow serve others, who may come behind me.  Transparency and accountability are cousins, if not sisters, to truth telling.

 

Back to Samson, I can recall my conversation with the Lord, as I was driving up Highway 52, some years later, having cut our final ties with the city of Lexington, which we still love.  My case with the Lord, as I struggled with the loneliness of the new, was the stability and opportunity the school system had offered my family, emerging positions of leadership and influence, let alone full retirement in only 10 years!

 

It was then, on a stretch of concrete near the Akron Drive exit, the aforementioned video began to play; I literally watched as a blind, tired Sampson, walking in circles, enslaved by and harnessed to a grist mill, ground someone else’s grain! (Judges 16:21)

 

The option posed by the Spirit was whether I wanted to spend the rest of my life grinding someone else’s “grain” in return for subsistence, or would I rather follow him?  My decision was swift, though I somehow knew that my friend would have blessed either had I stumbled.

 

From that day forward my prayer has been, not only that I know the freedom to make wise decisions long before this level of crisis, but also maintain the valor of this man Sampson, when it came time to make such transformational plays.

 

Though Sampson lived in a much more primitive time, my heart cry since that “video” has always been that should I ever find myself in a spot in my life where my efforts were of value only as entertainment, that God would provide an exit strategy, a last and perhaps sovereign leadership moment!

 

This post is about the hope and new sense of calling that transitions often provide.  Could this morning’s sense of closure actually be further fulfillment of a transformation begun 30 years ago and in fact, the grandest moment of my calling?   This morning confirmed that journaling is a valuable tool for hindsight and affirmation..

 

God give me the ears of Sampson, discernment for the moment, and the companion (“not by might nor power, but by His Spirit”) willing to guide this now aged servant toward just the place where those now allegorical, yet critical “temple pillars stand”, and then may I, like Sampson, push with all my might!

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “The Spirit of Sampson

  1. Good Morning John. Just read your blog and can’t help but wonder what it all means when you spoke of transistion. From what to what are you referring.

    Also, I have a very interesting book written by our “Rabbi” who lead our indepth Israel Bible studies. It provides so many insights into the life of Samson that I never ever saw before. Will drop it off at your house this afternoon on our way into town. I know it’ll blow your socks off. I’m barefoot right now just thinking about it!

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