I have noticed something about Judges 13 that most people seem to miss. Usually we get into a discussion about Samson’s origins, and how his parents were so careful to do what God told them to do even before he was born, a good discussion to be sure. But I like to point out something else that is just as helpful to me as I try to live my life as a disciple of Christ.
I find the difference between Samson’s parents amusing. God knew exactly what He was doing when He approached Manoah’s wife instead of Manoah himself with the news that they would finally have a son. His wife did run to tell him, as any woman would, but we immediately get the picture of a man so excited he cannot quite think straight. He wants to see this messenger too, so when “the man of God” returns, his wife dutifully brings him. After hearing the same message, Manoah insists on fixing a meal which “the man” says must be an offering to God instead, an offering which is immediately ignited, taking “the man” with it. Wow! This must be an angel! Now Manoah is really excited! “We’re going to die!” he screams to his wife.
This calm, practical woman probably sighed before telling him, “Nonsense. If we were going to die, why would he tell us that this was going to happen to us and how to act until then?” The inference is that with this bit of common sense she managed to soothe her frantic husband and then did exactly as she was told, altering her diet so that Samson was indeed a Nazirite “from the womb” as God had promised. Her lack of frenzy did not make her less faithful. She was instead a woman who managed to temper her enthusiasm enough to actually get the job done.
It is a big mistake to judge someone’s faith by how loud it is. Too many times we get caught up in the excitement, roused up by the passion, ignited with the zeal, only to have it burn out, leaving us in a pile of ashes, never having accomplished more than a tiny of piece of our mission, if any at all.. Towering flames may make a beautiful spectacle, but softly glowing coals cook the meal and heat the home far better, and like them, true faith is usually a quiet one that accomplishes the task, even if it is tedious and disagreeable, and simply never goes out.
Faith is a man who gets up every morning and goes out to provide for his family, whether he likes his job or not. Faith is the woman who cares for her family and her home, as well as the sick and poor in her community, as well as she can, even if the chore gets nasty and no one else notices what she has done. Faith is the teenager who has the maturity and integrity to rise above his fellows—and in spite of his fellows—in choosing the values he will live by. Faith is the retired couple who spend much of their free time visiting and having people in their home, usually people who can never return the favor. Faith is the widow who goes to the meetinghouse on Monday and Thursday to keep the classrooms in order, file the bulletin boards, and run off the newsletter, and has it all taken for granted—or even complained about. Faith is the widower who still comes in every Sunday morning and quietly takes his seat, now empty of the love of his life, but who manages to worship with all his heart anyway, knowing full well that he will see her again.
Real faith is practical. It may not be exciting; it may not make the headlines of the local paper; sometimes it may not even be pleasant; but real people who do what needs to be done with a quiet consistency are the ones we should set up as role models for our children. It takes a far bigger man to do something he may not really like to do simply because it needs doing, than a man who only does the things he enjoys doing. True faith needs neither the acclamation nor the adrenaline rush to endure.
Keep at it. Keep plugging along. Someone is noticing, actually a lot of someones, and your faith will be the example that sustains them as well.
And you, being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works, yet now has he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreproveable before him: if so be that you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, Col 1:23-24.