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Lenten Reflections: Learning from Mistakes

'Candle lights' photo (c) 2007, echiner1 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013

Judges 16:1-22
Mark 4:21-34
Philippians 1:27-2:2

By Shanna Wood

In the Judges passage, we find the familiar story of Samson and Delilah, the story of the downfall of a man because of his refusal to learn from his mistakes.

Samson, already at odds with the Philistines after the loss of his wife, falls in love with a woman named Delilah. The lords of the Philistines ask Delilah to find out the secret to his strength for a large sum of money and she sets out to do so. Delilah asks Samson his weakness, he tells her, she binds him up in the manner in which he described and tells the Philistines to come after him. Since Samson lied, he manages to get away unscathed. The part of the story that is difficult to understand is why he stays with Delilah. She asks him the secret to his strength three more times, with a repeat of the same sequence of events until the fourth time, when he has finally conceded the truth. At what point should Samson have learned his lesson and decided Delilah may not have been the woman for him? I would say after the first time, but isn’t it human nature to act obtusely and refuse to learn from our mistakes?

In Mark we find three parables. The first is about revealing that which is hidden and the second two about the kingdom of God. These three parables are followed by a short passage stating that Jesus only spoke to the people in parables, but explained the parables when he was alone with the disciples. Jesus knew the parables were difficult to understand and yet he saved the explanation for his closest followers. Are you part of the people, just interested in the story? Or do you desire a deeper understanding of the truth that is only available for Jesus’ closest followers?

The Philippians passage is part of a letter from Paul and Timothy to the church in Philippi. They advise the church to conduct themselves in a manner that is worthy of the gospel, standing firm together in faith and against those who oppose them. They point out that the struggles the church in Philippi is facing are the same that they have faced. Since all believers face similar struggles, sticking together in support and love can help to keep us all on track.

Prayer: God, help us to be wise and learn from our mistakes. Exhort us to grow closer to Jesus to understand the difficult teachings. Guide our path and give us the strength to stand firm in our faith together.

Shanna Wood is a member of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, in Washington, D.C. This post is reprinted, with permission,  from NYAPC's 2013 Lenten Meditations booklet.


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