Who I Don’t Want to Be
By Tom Vander Well
Samson said to them, “Since you’ve acted like this, I swear that I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” Judges 15:7 (NIV)
Along my life journey, I have known certain individuals who became antithetical life examples for me. In other words, they were individuals whom I regarded as persons I never wanted to be like. It might have been their actions, their attitudes, or the way they treated others. Looking back, I’m grateful for them. I believe there have been waypoints on life’s journey where I was more motivated by who I didn’t want to be as much as I was who I did want to be. God has used both motivations in my story.
This explains the love-hate relationship I’ve always had with the person of Samson. The boy-child in me loves the stories of legendary heroes and superheroes and their save-the-day heroics. Samson’s legendary birth, size, and strength, along with his legendary feats, certainly fit into that category.
The problem is that Samson is a jerk. He’s selfish, impetuous, shallow, reactive, vengeful, and driven by his base appetites. He also makes continuously foolish choices.
It took me a long time to realize that this was the very point God is trying to make in Samson’s story.
Samson’s story is the story of the Hebrew people themselves.
Samson is divinely birthed and set apart from the beginning, just as the Hebrews were going all the way back to God’s promise to Abraham.
Samson was called by God to live differently than everyone else by taking a life-long Nazarite vow never to drink and never to cut his hair, just as the Hebrews were called by God to live differently than all the other people groups around them by keeping His law and commandments.
Samson lustfully desired and chased after Philistine women rather than women from his own tribes, just as the Hebrews lustfully chased after other gods rather than remaining faithful to God.
Samson’s impetuousness and foolish choices perpetually lead to violent and chaotic ends, just as the Hebrews’ foolish alliances and relationships with other nations lead to similar ends.
Samson’s story is the story of the Hebrew people. Samson is an antithetical example. He was special from the beginning. He is God’s man. He is divinely gifted. He has a calling and a purpose. Yet, all he does is act foolishly, get himself into trouble, and live selfishly.
And God continues to bless Samson, give him strength, deliver him, and miraculously provide for him.
“Remind you of anyone?” God is asking His people through the person of Samson.
He’s also asking me the same question as I read the story.
Looking back on my own life, my own story, how many times has God blessed me in ways I never deserved? How many times have I acted selfishly, impetuously, and foolishly? How many times have I allowed my own tragic flaws to get me into trouble even though I know I’m making the same mistake I’ve made before and I know where it leads? How many times have I been unfaithful to what God asks of me, only to have God remain steadfastly faithful to me?
I don’t want to be a Samson!
“Good,” God’s spirit whispers. “I don’t want that either. Remember that today as you live, speak, think, and make decisions. Don’t be a Samson.
Tom Vander Well believes the universe is a work of God’s artistry— embellished by Van Gough’s brush, Miles Davis’ trumpet, and Bob Dylan’s lyrics, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. Tolkien’s imagination, and Michael Jordan’s jump shot. He believes in hot coffee, Gregorian chants and quiet conversations with God before dawn. Michael believes that life is a journey with an eternal destination, and in having good companions for the sojourn. He also believes grace is costly and salvation is free becasue of it.
Michael and his wife Wendy live in Iowa. He is an amateur actor and playwright, and regular teacher among his local Jesus followers. He serves as president and CEO of Intelligentics (formerly C. Wenger Group), a QA firm helping companies measure and improve customer service, satisfaction, and loyalty.
You may find out more about Tom at his website
CGM Wishes to thank Wallpaper Access for permission to publish our feature photo