TD Jakes - The Riddle
You see, if you intellectualize life you will be frustrated, you will be confused, you will be upset. It is like the line that Shakespeare quotes in Macbeth, that, "Life is a tale told by a fool," I think he said, "Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". In this soliloquy of Macbeth, it happens at a time when he has lost his wife and the losing of his wife has drawn a conclusion in his life that life doesn't make any sense. Because there are moments in your life that are not explainable. Short caskets are unexplainable, the prospering of the wicked is unexplainable, the dying of good people is unexplainable, the longevity of the wicked is unexplainable. It's unexplainable how you can train somebody and they end up with your job.
There seemingly is no rhyme or reason or logic. And to those of us who are logical and try to intellectualize life, we end up feeling much like Macbeth, that, "Life is a tale told by an idiot". This text looks like it's been told by an idiot. It's insane, it's crazy, it's ludicrous. He's on his way to get married and a lion comes out, and he fights the lion with his bare hands and subdues him, and destroys him and kills him. And on his way back from Timnah, the bees, not maggots, the bees, not buzzards, the bees have set up a hive in the carcass of the lion.
Samson almost seems bipolar, angry enough to kill at one moment and couldn't put up with the whining of a woman the next moment. He is as bipolar as honey in a lion; nobody goes to the carcass of the lion to eat. And all of the text is centered around the understanding of this riddle. He states that, "Life is full of events and actions, however absurd, and short, and completely meaningless at the end". His conclusion is my conclusion with this text, "This don't make no sense". I read it and read it and read it and read it and read it again, and I thought, "This makes no sense". And there have been moments in my life, and maybe in yours that you have sat up at two o'clock in the morning and said, "This makes", I got a master's degree and this makes no sense, I went to a junior college and this makes no sense, I made straight A's in reading comprehension but this makes no sense.
Is there anybody in here that's willing to admit that sometimes your own life has stumped you, and confused you? And sometimes your own behavior has stumped you? How could I be so smart about this and so dumb about that? How could I be so strong over here and be so stupid over here? How could I have so much power in this area and be so passive in that area? And you want me to explain myself to you when I can't explain myself to me. And in the midst of the chaos and confusion, I still got lions to fight. The lions don't wait for me to figure myself out before they jump out and attack me. I want to talk to somebody who's had lions to fight. In the middle of your confusion, in the middle of your chaos, you had lions to fight. And without warning you went from happy to hell, from excitement to torment, and lions jumping out from everywhere, and if you don't get him, he's gonna get you.
Macbeth determined that life made no sense at all and it seemed like it was told by an idiot, and he had decided and concluded that it was all meaningless. And I would argue that Jeremiah 29:11 gives a great clarity, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, are thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end," that it doesn't all end in meaninglessness, there is an expected end. There is an expected end, that God has determined the end from the beginning, that he never picked up his pen to write the story and just said, "Let me make this up as I go," God has determined the end from the beginning; that God is Alpha, and Omega, that he is the beginning and the end, that he is the first and the last.
And so he starts it, he finishes it, he begins it, he completes it, he's Alpha, he's Omega. The problem is he says nothing about the middle and the riddle of life is in the middle, it's in the middle of this text, it's in the middle of his life, it's in the middle of his story, and in your life, life is the biggest riddle in the middle. I don't see toddlers at day camp worried about anything, I don't see old folks in nursing homes upset about nothing, but the hell is in the riddle in the middle. The riddles of life come in the middle of life, just when you're trying to get yourself together and you're trying to do something and be something and turn into something and make it work and make it happen, that's when life acts a fool.
It don't act a fool 'til you buy a house, it don't act a fool until you get married, it doesn't act a fool until you're on your way somewhere and then all of a sudden it becomes a riddle. And the older you get, the dumber you recognize you are. And you suddenly, oh, when you're young, you're impressed with yourself, "Oh, let me tell you who I am, they need to understand who I am, they need to recognize". That's what you do when you're young. By the time you get to the middle of your life, you said, "Lord, I don't know who I am, I'm not sure what I got, I don't know which way it's gonna go". So, Samson goes down to Timnah, to marry his oppressor.
I want you to think for a moment about the lions that jumped out while you were on your way. I want you to think about all the lions that tried to kill you while you were coming. I want you to think about the lion of depression and the lion of grief and the lion of fear and the lion of debt and the lion of trouble and the lion of dysfunction and the lion of confusion. I want you to think about all the lions that leaped out at you when you are happy and all of a sudden you had to fight, you had to change your whole mood and go in to fight mode, just, just up out of the blue. No warning, it just come from nowhere. He was going down there to get married, you don't plan to fight when you're going to get married.
Look at somebody and say, "A lion jumped out". Yeah, that's why I'm late, that's where I got here late, 'cause a lion jumped out, that's why I got blood on my clothes, 'cause a lion jumped out, that's why I got scars on my heart, 'cause a lion jumped out, that's why I got a sharp tongue and a quick mouth, 'cause a lion jumped out, that's why I overreact on people, 'cause a lion jumped out. There are some people in this room, people don't understand why you are the way you are but so many lions have jumped out of nowhere that you always half-cocked, you always half-ready, you're always looking in the bushes and looking in the trees 'cause you don't know when the next lion is gonna jump out. And the lion jumped out to kill him and he knew in an instant it was kill or be killed, and killing a lion empty-handed is no easy thing. He killed him with nothing in his hands, he killed him without having anything to work with.
Oh my God, you don't have to have all the advantages that other people have to kill your lion, you can kill your lion. Who am I preaching to? I'm a living witness you can kill your lion bare-handed. God's gonna give somebody a bare-handed victory, over every attack that's come in your life he's going to give you a bare-handed victory. You're not gonna be able to praise your sword, you're not gonna be able to praise your shield, you're not gonna be able to talk about how strong, God's just gonna give you your bare hands. It ain't even gonna be a fair fight, the lion got claws, you got fingernails, but you're still gonna kill the lion bare-handed.
That's a prophetic word to somebody. I don't know who it is, but take 30 seconds and praise him like it's your word. Praise him like it's your word, praise him like it's your word, praise him like it's your word, praise him like he's your word. Strut around a little bit, strut around a little bit and say, "I'm gonna do it bare-handed". I'm going to do it, I'm gonna do it bare-handed. I'm gonna do it with a part-time job, I'm going to do it with a junior degree, I'm going to do it as a single mother, I'm going to do it as a single man by myself. I don't have everything you got to work with, I'm going to kill my lion.
So Samson reaches, Samson goes on to Timnah, and on his way back, he comes back, looks over in the carcass, and out of the eater has come something to eat, and out of the strong has come something sweet. The dichotomy of the riddle is a picture of his own life; out of the eater has come something to eat and out of the strong has come something sweet. I got my greatest honey through my greatest fights; the bigger the fight, the sweeter the honey, the bigger fight, the sweeter the honey. Go back to the place that almost killed you and make sure you get your honey out of it. Oh my God, they didn't hear me, go back to the place that almost killed you and make sure you get your honey out of it because God is gonna put your honey in your last battle.
So Samson, who to me is a bit bipolar, he's a bit bipolar 'cause when Samson got mad he did crazy stuff. Who sets fox tails on fire to burn down corn fields? That's a bit crazy, picks up a gate and throws it on people. When Samson got mad he was a fool, but on the other hand so tender that he could not stand to hear a woman cry, and he is everything that the riddle is. He is a riddle. What makes you mad? What makes you mad? What makes you weak? What gives you victory while in other areas simultaneously you are a victim? Can we accept the human in our heroes or will we forever demand that they be something that we are not?
If Samson is my superhero I don't get to pick the parts about him I like, I have to be able to deal with his temper and his power, and his crazy choices about women and his ability to overthrow the Philistines. You don't get to pick the parts of your husband you like and leave the parts you don't. You don't get to split your wife in half and take half of her, you gotta take all of her. You got to take the parts that get on your nerves, you gotta take the parts that you lack, you got to take the parts that you need and the parts that aggravate you or it won't last. You can't split your children in two, you can't take the good part that you brag about at work without dealing with the bad part of that nasty mouth she got. You can't split people.
Can't you stand to have a human hero? Can you eat honey out of a carcass? Are you hungry enough? Maybe that's the better question. Are you hungry enough to eat honey without worrying about where it came from? because if I have to live up to your expectations to feed you I will always fail you. If I have to live up to your expectations to love you I will always let you down and if you have to live up to mine in order for you to love me I will die without love because marriage is a riddle; and family is a riddle and love is a riddle and success is a riddle. Can I go just a little bit deeper? The more heroic you are, the more misunderstood you are because with that heroism comes the propensity to try to live up to what people expect from you, all the while hiding your humanity as if it were wrong to be human.
The real is that God puts hero in human, that God puts treasure in earthen vessels, that God puts a might in men, that God puts treasure in clay, that we have this treasure in earthen vessels. That means I'm really good at this but I'm really bad at that. Am I preaching this morning? Can we both be victorious and yet in other areas be a complete victim? And can you live with both? One more thing I want to point out and then I'll close. The other part of the text that we read that might have went over your head and bypassed you but it is the substratum of the text itself is, "(His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)"
In other words, wait a minute, the time that the Scriptures it says, "His parents did not know that this was from the Lord," is when Samson says he wants to marry the Philistine, which was the stupidest thing I ever heard in my life. And then the next verse says that his weakness was of the Lord. Y'all-y'all-y'all-y'all don't want this, y'all don't want this, y'all don't want this. That God willed for him to love the wrong woman, that God had a master plan not just in the strength of him but in the weakness of him, not just in the victory of him, but God even used the victimhood that was down inside of him to accomplish his own divine purpose.
And Paul said amen to it when he said, "For we know that all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord, who are the called according to his purpose". God sent me here to tell you, "I'm not just gonna use your good stuff, I'm gonna use your bad stuff, I'm gonna use your dumb decisions, I'm going to use your mistakes and your proclivities. Jonah, I'm gonna use your rebellion, I'm gonna use you going down and being thrown off the boat and swallowed up by a fish and spending three days in the lower parts of the Earth, I'm going to use your mistake to prove my death, burial, and resurrection. Rahab, I'm gonna use the fact that you're not scared are men to hide my spies in your house so that I can get the glory out of the weakness in your life".
You may be trying to get over something that God is gonna use for his glory, because when you just love him, God has a way of making everything work together for your good. God said, "I'm not like your husband, I'm not trying to split you up, I'm going to use your good and your bad, your weak and your strong, your right and your wrong". In fact, he said, "'My strength is made perfect in your weakness.' The weaker you are, the better I look; the more incapable you are, the more they'll know it was me that gave you the power and the glory to be who you are".
I feel something in this place. I'm talking to somebody, I don't know who it is, you have been quirky with men but you're just right for God. The people don't understand you but the Lord made you, he made your stammering lips. "Moses, I meant for you to stammer, I'm going to use your stutter to get the victory". And I don't know who I'm preaching to but I'm talking to somebody in this room. God has not lost control in your life he's going to use the very thing about you that you hate about yourself to use it for his glory. If this is your word from God, don't worry about what people think, don't worry about being their hero, don't worry about what you got on, don't worry about your eyelashes.
But if this is God's Word for your life, then take a minute and praise him for your brokenness, praise him for your craziness, praise him for your quirkiness, praise him for your weird ways, praise him for yourself, a work in progress but I give God the praise. If only perfect people could praise the Lord, nobody would praise him, but I heard the Bible say, "Let everything that have breath praise ye the Lord". So if you're not dead in here give him the praise. If you're still breathing, give him the praise. If you've been broken, give him the praise. If you're half right and half wrong, give him the praise. If you're half weak and a half strong, give him the praise. I can't hear you.