Judges 16:20-22 He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

We’ve heard the stories. A leader falls—adultery, murder, and deceit, followed by public humiliation. Not just the “bad guys.” Even the “good guys” like David, Abraham, and Moses are guilty of the vilest sins. Why, then would the Bible include them in the “Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11) as “heroes”? Perhaps there is something wrong with our perception of our leaders and ourselves…

Consider Samson’s story—talk about a scandal. Samson was set apart in one of the most “holy” orders of the Bible. A “Nazarite” doesn’t drink alcohol, touch dead bodies, eat unclean food, or even cut his hair. Samson broke every rule. He slept with prostitutes, killed animals (and people), partied excessively, and played with fire until he was burned. After reading the story in Judges 13-16, it appears as if God would use him as an example of “what not to do when I bless you with spiritual/supernatural gifts.” Instead, God puts him in the “Hall of Faith” – a hero to Israel and for the church. Why? His hair grew back.

Maybe we underestimate how difficult it is to live with ourselves and our failures. In Samson’s case, he squandered the supernatural strength God gave him to save Israel – lost because of Samson’s weakness, relationship with women. But how much more of a hero is someone who completely blows it, who is never going to receive the accolades or respect, who still chooses to do what is right.

We love to share our conversion stories. I was lost, now I’m found; blind but now I see. Is that the real miracle in our relationship with God? Or is it that I am still sick with sin, but God still continuously heals me. I am still lost, even though God has saved me, but God still finds me in my weakness. I am a fool, squandering what God has given me, but God still trusts me. I treat God’s gifts with contempt but he still blesses me. I choose to sin, acting like God’s enemy, but God still treats me as His son.

I’ve squandered my life—I played with sin too many times and my hair was cut off. But my hair is growing back. Now I have an even more difficult time believing that God will use me because I’ve proven again and again that I don’t want to cooperate with Him. I’m unworthy, but God hasn’t given up on me.  Against all odds, not because I have good character, but even in spite of my demented weaknesses, I will still serve my God.