Thursday, March 29, 2012


When we were kids, my grandparents bought my brother and me a go-cart. This was a completely out-of-the-blue gift, as I remember. It wasn’t near our birthdays or Christmas, and neither of us had asked for anything like that. But what a gift! We lived in the country, so we had plenty of room to ride around in safety. There was a long gravel road in front of our house, and I learned that it was fun to run that go-cart as fast as it would go, then suddenly hit the brakes and turn the steering wheel hard, so that the go-cart would swerve to a stop, spraying gravel all over the place. One day, I did this, and I saw something bouncing away from me, and realized it was my left rear wheel. That go-cart wasn’t designed for that kind of treatment. We had friend who was a welder, and my parents got him to weld the wheel back on. But I didn’t learn from my mistake. I kept driving that go-cart like a stunt car in the movies. As a result, it started to fall apart, more and more. One day, my dad told me that it wasn’t smart of me to tear up the go-cart like I was. This was a great gift from my grandparents, he said, and I ought to take better care of it out of respect for them. I have to say, that didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time. I didn’t say anything to Dad, because I didn’t want to seem defiant, but what I was thinking was, “If it was a gift, it’s mine, right? I can do anything I want with it.”

Now that I’m older and a little further along in my spiritual walk, I recognize that attitude for what it is: Pride. That is the attitude that we all have about life: “My life is a gift, and if it’s a gift, then I can do whatever I want with it.” We resent anyone telling us what we can or cannot do. The dominant view of personal ethics in our culture today seems to be, “If what I’m doing doesn’t directly harm someone else, I should be able to do it.” But the consistent message of Scripture is that the One who has given us the gift of life has a specific plan for how we are to use it. I mean more than just following the Ten Commandments. As Ephesians 2:10 says, you and I are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared beforehand. In other words, He had a plan for you before you were born. To follow that plan is to truly appreciate and enjoy the gift of life. This Sunday, we’re going to take a fresh look at a very well-known story from Scripture: The story of Samson found in Judges 13-16. This story shows us what happens when we choose to ignore God’s plan for our lives and live life on our own terms.

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