“Samson judged Israel for twenty years during the period when the Philistines dominated the land.” – Judges 15:20.
In Judges 15:20, we learn that Samson judged Israel well for 20 years. Then one day, he chose to walk to the Philistine headquarters in Gaza to find a prostitute. We can never know the number of actual steps but some basic math indicates that Samson walked about 56,000 steps to get to Gaza from where he was. And for the sake of discussion, let’s say that Samson takes about 100 steps per minute. So the 56,000 steps would take him approximately 560 minutes or 9.33 hours to complete. That’s 56,250 chances that Samson had to pause, reflect, and take a different road literally and figuratively.
He had approximately 9 hours to do some mental due diligence and determine whether this was the wise thing for him to do. But he chose not to reflect or to pause, opting instead to keep walking. And eventually he ran into Delilah. If he had taken just one minute out of those 560 minutes to pray and ask God for wisdom and guidance the outcome may have been different. Maybe even radically different. But he didn’t pause and his hair was cut, his eyes were gouged out, and the strongest man to ever live was made weak.
The story of Samson should give us pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When tempted, pause. When stressed, pause. When seeking God’s will, pause. And whenever you pause, pray. Jesus took time to pause in His ministry to get away from all of the action to be renewed. Mark 6:31 tells us, “Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. Matthew chapter 13 shows the short pauses in one day Jesus took before continuing His teachings.
We need to leave space for God to provide. Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” That suggests both a pause and relinquishing total control of the action with our own hands and minds. It is taking the time to listen for the “still small voice” through which God often chooses to speak to us.
And don’t forget to pray. Praying and seeking God’s will help to give us the strength we need to ward off temptation and prevent us from possibly stepping on other landmines in our lives. But let me take that one step further. We should often practice preemptive prayer. Most of us default to pray as we are sliding down the rabbit hole, or as a last ditch hope to keep us out of trouble. And there is nothing wrong with that. But pause and think about it for a second. Prayer is our most powerful, most accessible, most useful resource for all the challenges we face. If we are not using it proactively, in other words praying for the wisdom to see the guard rails, to keep our distance from temptation, to keep our vision and our actions committed to God, then we should start. Much like it is wise to perform the preventive maintenance on a car rather than fixing it when it is not running. It is far better to pray and stay out of danger than to pray for deliverance when we are already in danger.
- Is it easy to pause? If not why not?
- What times in your life do you think it is important to pause?
- It is important to pause and to pray. Why do you think that is true?
- What can we do this week to make pause and pray a regular activity in our lives?