When The Time Comes

Judges 13:25, “And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him…

Over the years I have written very openly and honestly about many things. I have shared many of the failures that once so strongly dominated my life. The alcohol. The drugs. The lust. I have opened wide the closet door and let the skeletons out. I have also been very candid about my present struggles and pains. My son’s autism. My wife’s cancer. The wrestling that both of these issues have birthed in my heart. From day one I decided that I wanted these devotionals to be two things. I wanted them to be practical. And I wanted them to be honest reflections of my own walk with the Lord.

For as long as I can remember I have craved attention. Teacher’s pet. Class clown. Center of attention. Rebel. Trouble maker. I have worn many different hats over the years because of this one longing for attention. I feel such a need to be appreciated, to be validated, to be celebrated. I want to be recognized. I want to be congratulated. Everything within me shouts out to the world around me, “HEY!!! Look at me! Love me. Admire me. Respect me.” Yes, it’s been there for as long as I can remember. Sometimes it hides in the shadows of false humility and deflected praise. But even then, the foul beast of pride roars within the quietness of my own soul.

Sadly, my 20 years of professional ministry only fed the beast within. I longed for the spotlight. I gravitated toward the microphone. I loved the applause. I lived for the accolades. The larger the audience the greater the sense of fulfillment. But on the inside I was dying. In time I grew to hate the ministry. I even grew to hate the people (not specifically, just in general). But I loved that spotlight. In fact, I lived for it. That same insatiable desire for recognition that led me as a child now drove me as a minister. I wanted my name to be known. I wanted my accomplishments to be recognized.

And then one day it was all gone. God shut me down. No sin. No sickness. Just felt led to walk away from it all. Truth be known? I was tired of it all anyway but I just didn’t know how to stop. The train of my life was running ahead at full speed. I was a wreck waiting to happen. I mean, think about it. A pastor full of pride who hates ministry and people? And so I walked away from ministry. Or I should say, God led me away from ministry. God unplugged the spotlight and led me into a secular job.

So, what does any of this have to do with Samson? Just this. Samson had a divine calling. Samson had been designated as set apart for divine service. He had a purpose. He had a mission. But in the final analysis, God was the One who set it all in motion. The Bible tells us that at some point in his life Samson began to be “stirred” by the Spirit. God began moving upon his heart. The Spirit began motivating him for the purpose to which he had been chosen. God was the catalyzing force for Samson.

Literally the picture that the Hebrew word conveys is that of God striking a bell. Samson had grown up. He had waited. He had walked for years according to his Nazarite vow. But then the day came when God sounded the alarm. The firing pistol sounded and marked the start of the race. The bell rung and the fight began. The day finally came when all the years of waiting and preparation came to an end. The Spirit of the Lord moved Samson from the sidelines to the field of play. The time had come. His day had arrived. But it didn’t happen until the Spirit set it in motion.

I am reminded this morning that when we try to get ahead of God we only mess things up. We weren’t designed to lead. We were created to follow. I cannot go back and change the mistakes of my past. God gave me a 20 year window of opportunity but I never took advantage of it. Not really. I was too busy promoting self when I should have been building the kingdom. So, now I am content. Content to write anonymously. Content to be some unknown person who sends out blogs into the “cloud.” Content to trust God with this season of my life even if it means I will never again stand in a spotlight. For years I wanted to make waves. But it was mainly about me. Now? If God chooses and if He permits, I am content to make ripples. Just so long as when the time comes He is the only one standing in the spotlight.