To Lean or Not to Lean?
By: Tiffany Ann Lewis
I would like to talk about Sampson and something that is seldom brought up, his natural strength. Generally when we think about Sampson we think about his supernatural strength or his fall to temptation resulting in dabbling with Delilah; however I believe there is something else to be revealed here that we can all benefit from. I believe Sampson’s greatest folly was not leaning on God because of his natural strength.
You see, I don’t picture Sampson as a wimpy lad wandering around waiting for the Spirit of the Lord to come upon him empowering him. The bible says he was a warrior so I believe he had plenty of natural strength of his own. He had to be ready to battle 24/7, in season and out.
Beloved, I believe that each of us has some natural strength that makes it possible to walk out what God has called us to do. Let me explain. There is a call; there are gifts; and there are talents, three different things. Each of us has received a call from God to be the light to the world around us. The gifts of the Holy Spirit empower us to reflect that light through the talents God has given us.
How that glorious Light is expressed through us will be uniquely different for everyone. A talent represents any kind of natural resource we are given. For example, a worship leader isn’t a worship leader just because they can play an instrument or sing. A worship leader is called by God to lead others into His presence. Furthermore, God may give that leader a supernatural gift of being able to hear His Voice through the music so he/she can prophesy. Nevertheless, that individual has a natural talent of making music; there is skill that he/she needs to utilize in order to make that joyful sound to the Lord. With all that said, natural talent/strength can make beautiful music but it can only touch the soul realm of the listener. Only the anointing of His Spirit will touch the heart.
The problem arises when we begin to gain confidence in our natural skill. I used that example because I was a worship leader long before I was a pastor and it taught me a lesson I pray I never forget. When I began leading worship, I was scared to death. I would spend days praying and fasting in hopes that I could get all the way through a song without falling on my face. Thankfully, over the years I grew more confident and I didn’t feel sick to my stomach every time I led worship. Unfortunately, as I gained confidence, I wasn’t praying with the same intensity to make it through a service as I did in the beginning. Now, there is nothing wrong with confidence, but so often, as our confidence grows in that area, our prayer life diminishes in it.
In the bible, prayerlessness is symbolized by sleep. It’s no coincidence that Sampson was sleeping on Delilah’s lap when his hair was cut. When he woke up, he just assumed that he could operate once again as he had always done before. Beloved, please hear this, just because God anointed what you did yesterday doesn’t mean that He’s anointing it today. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Evidently it was worth repeating because it’s quoted twice both in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25. So often we run out and do something assuming it will work just because it’s worked for us in the past. Sampson ran out in the way that seemed right to him and his enemies captured him. His greatest deception was not Delilah; it was his own strength. The deception comes when our natural talent causes us to lose site of our utter dependency on God.
It would be very easy for me to lean on my experience or a good song list in order to lead worship “well” but then I wouldn’t be leaning on Him anymore, I’d be leaning on my knowledge. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Sampson woke up finding himself once again in a situation where he needed to use his strength and he said, “I will go out as before at other times, and shake myself free. But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.” (Judges 16:20) Sampson got up and ran out as he had many times before but notice, this time he didn’t even know that the presence of the Lord had left him. O’ God, how sad… How is this possible that he didn’t even know? He must have been doing things for a long time in his own strength if he couldn’t even discern the difference between when God was with him and when He wasn’t.
Tears sting my eyes and I tremble deep inside because I know firsthand what it’s like to run out apart from the presence of the Lord. I know what it feels like to have turned left when God has turned right only to find myself standing in my own strength and not His. I read this bible passage and an alarm goes off in my spirit as if the Lord is shouting, “Warning, warning, please remember to lean!” What will it take us to get there? Does God have to cut our hair or can we realize it through this glimpse into Sampson’s life?
We have an opportunity right now to learn from Sampson’s mistake. My calling today as a pastor is different than it was as a worship leader and it’s very different from Sampson’s, and your calling is probably quite different from mine. However, one thing that we all have in common is our total dependency on Jesus Christ to help us walk it out.
The Lord wants us leaning on Him in all things, always! Seriously, think about it, all things, always, in raising our children, in doing our job, in all day to day affairs. He wants us leaning on Him emotionally, physically and spiritually. He wants us leaning on Him for our next meal, our next promotion, and our next breath, in all things, always.
The Lord is inviting us today to take this leaning position. May we respond and choose to lean. Amen and Amen.