Bible newbies might assume that the tale of Samson and Delilah is an edgy romance, ready to plug and play for Valentine’s Day. The actual story (Judges 16) reads much closer to a classical tragedy in which political intrigue runs rampant, the very flawed hero falls, all hope is lost, and then everybody dies. Prostitution. Assault. Disfigurement. Ethnic cleansing. Not exactly suitable for Sunday school felt boards. What assortment of senses and experiences might capture the flavor of this seedy couple? Here’s my take.
The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by ‘the veil of familiarity’. The child enjoys his cold meat (otherwise dull to him) by pretending it is buffalo, just killed with his own bow and arrow. And the child is wise. The real meat comes back to him more savoury for having been dipped in a story; you might say that only then is it the real meat. If you are tired of the real landscape, look at it in a mirror. By putting bread, gold, horse, apple, or the very roads into a myth, we do not retreat from reality: we rediscover it. As long as the story lingers in our mind, the real things are more themselves.
There’s a soft spot in my heart for Captain Jack Sparrow. Not because of his cheeky spirit or swashbuckling guyliner, but because he’s who I am without Jesus.
A friend says God’s people have always behaved more like pirates than children. We invent ways to destroy, to rebel, to plunder, to make of this beautiful world a scavenged carcass. No rules for us! we cry on our unimpeded path to chaos. We naturally perfect violence and corruption in our black hearts; seas teem with the carnage we’ve created. The flag that flies over us is death, but nothing can convince us that we’re not masters of our own fates, captains of our own souls. And we pilot our ships and everyone around us straight to hell, singing loudly and numbing ourselves to the pain with delusions of glorious independence.
And then, one Friday afternoon, the sky goes dark and every pirate flag disappears. We all lift our eyes and gaze at the new crimson banners snapping overhead, and the ocean is stocked with very confused marauders.
Your fingers hold tight to the pebble you picked up in the most important moment of the life you just left. They say you can’t take anything with you, but no one ever seems to remember the rock. Bubbling with excitement, you scan the crowd and take it all in—you’d never imagined so many different shades of beauty and the mostly exotic rhythms of language swirling about you now. Grins everywhere. This is Christ’s tribe, anticipating the great billows of music which begin the ceremony. You turn your pebble over and examine its shape, color, markings, so foreign all those years ago, now as familiar as your favorite song. Jesus, who had met Peter on the beach with breakfast and forgiveness millennia before, met you there, too. He asked for your heart and gave you this smooth stone to put in your pocket.
If you’ve never experienced the short book of Ruth, it’s definitely worth a read. These four chapters folded into the Old Testament showcase the goodness of God in an earthy, glorious way that almost overwhelms the senses. Romance, intrigue, grief, faithfulness, and fearless determination wind themselves together, bound up tight with the scarlet thread of redemption pointing ever toward the Savior who would be born into this same family in this same town over a thousand years later. I’d like to use a bit of artistic license in fleshing out an aesthetic for the three main characters as a creative experiment.
“Your story is the one that could set us all ablaze.”
It’s impossible to separate our souls from our stories. God wrote out His plan for us long before we took our first breath, and the ensuing chapters unfold to shape and develop the fullness of who we are meant to become. This month we’ve seen the need to be gentle with the narrative of our lives, busting at the seams over the hilarity and spilling our sorrow together. Let’s wrap this story feast up with a divine dessert of sorts: sharing our lives well for the glory of God.
Can you hear it? My heart breaking? The outcry against this sucker punch to the soul?
After being cast out of Eden due to our own rebel rhythm, we were plunged feet-first into brokenness. It taints everything, and it’s impossible to escape life unscathed. We’ve all been wounded. We all wound.
Have you ever laughed so hard you snorted milk out of your nose? Or peed a little?
You know the laugh I’m talking about. Not the pretty one that’s totally acceptable for social interactions. The belly laugh you have zero control over. The one people join in laughing at because it’s so funny. The unique one that gives a glimpse of who you really are, deep down to your toes.