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The Road of Trials



"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." - Proverbs 17:22 

Samson kept a Nazarite vow since his birth.  This meant that he was not to drink wine, touch corpses, or cut his hair.  God's blessing came from this vow, and it is said that his strength was in his hair.  As an adult, he fell in love with a Philistine woman named Delilah.  Delilah colluded with the Philistines to trick Samson, but the Power of God saved him.  We see this pattern play out over and over in Judges 13-16 with a long series of stories where God's power saved Samson from their traps.  Their plans increase in complexity, but Samson seemed unbothered.  

The story reminds me of the cartoons of coyote and the roadrunner.  The coyote is always trying out some new plan or trick to catch the roadrunner, but the roadrunner is too fast for him.  The roadrunner gets so comfortable with this dynamic that he starts to play with the coyote, taunting him.  In the same way, Samson starts to play along with the traps of the Philistines, pretending to be captured only to break his bonds at the last moment and fight them all off.  

In the Hero's Journey, this series of trials is called "The Road of Trials".  It often makes up the greatest length of any movie, especially action movies.  As we live out this stage in our own lives we may feel like the struggles never end.  We may get overwhelmed, or we may get bored with the tedium of it all.  Are you sensing any of those feelings in your life right now?  

If so, I wonder if we might learn something from Samson and the Roadrunner.  Could we learn to play?  Notice how they got comfortable with the pattern and they would play along?  Notice how they made a game out of the challenge.  God demonstrated this pattern of play too.  In Numbers 22 God was trying to get Balam to listen, but when Balam would not listen then God made a donkey talk to get his attention.  

When you activate the playful side you begin to see the humor in things that may have overwhelmed you or bored you.  The roadrunner is not funny because he always wins, he is funny because he starts to play. Samson almost seemed bored with the attempts on his life, so he played.  God tried to speak into the lives of people in so many ways, I can only imagine an internal giggle as God considered "I wonder if Balam will listen to the donkey?".  Playfulness is transformational and healing.  How can you play a little more today?

God, help us to play.  Even when life is hard and seems to be getting the best of us, remind us that you are with us and that your strength is but a call away.  Help us to play when things seem boring, tedious, or when hopelessness sets in.  Help us to access the healing power of play.   Amen    

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