Tuesday, January 23, 2024

A Squandered Life

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. (Jeremiah 18:1-3 NLT)

Jeremiah the prophet watched as the potter patiently formed the clay on the wheel. Obviously, he had a goal and purpose in mind for that piece of clay. But some of it was resistant and inflexible in the potter’s hands. Therefore, he cast it aside for a lesser purpose.

In other words, the clay didn’t become what the potter wanted it to be.

We are like the clay, and God is like the potter. He has a plan for each of our lives that is better than anything we’ve planned for ourselves. And we have a choice as to whether we’ll yield to the will of God for our lives or resist it.

Of course, we’ll have setbacks in life. We’ll face hardship and tragedy. We’ll encounter unexpected problems. But we have a choice as to whether we will become bitter or better.

Joseph had setback after setback, yet he chose to look to God. He was even able to say to his brothers who had betrayed him, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20 NLT).

In contrast, Samson was someone whom God could have used mightily, but he threw his life away because he made some subtle but serious mistakes. His was a life of squandered resources and wasted potential. And it stands as a warning to us that a good beginning doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good ending.

As Solomon wrote, “Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride” (Ecclesiastes 7:8 NLT). Or, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.”

Of course, when we think of Samson, we usually think of his fall with Delilah. However, it was a series of small compromises that ultimately led to his undoing.

God put his hand upon Samson in a unique way. Physically, there was no one stronger. The Bible tells us that God’s Spirit would come upon him, and he would do incredible, superhuman feats.

During Samson’s life, it was a very wicked time in Israel’s history. The Book of Judges says that everyone “did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (17:6 NLT). So, God raised up Samson. He was one of two people in the Old Testament whose birth and mission were foretold by an angel. And the angel said of Samson, “He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines” (Judges 13:5 NLT). 

Samson had the potential to do great things, but he didn’t finish the task he had started.

Life is full of surprises. We all know people like Samson, people who had great promise but never reached their potential. Then there are others who didn’t seem to have much promise, yet God is powerfully using them today.

What will you do with the life that God has given you? You have a choice. Will you conform to the will of God, or will you resist it?

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