What If? Another Story of Wasted Opportunity

The story of Michael Oher was made famous by the movie The Blind Side. Oher was just another kid growing up on the hard streets of Memphis until he was given an opportunity. He made the most of it and became an All-American left tackle at Ole Miss and played eight seasons in the NFL.  

The film was based on a book written by Michael Lewis. Though the book and the film tell a similar story, they do not tell the same story. In the book version of The Blind Side, Lewis takes time to tell the stories many great athletes on the Memphis streets who didn't make it. It's an all too common story of great athletes swallowed up by poverty, poor education, drug abuse, and gang violence. 

I would summarize the first part of the book with two words. "What if?"

Samson is the Bible's biggest "What if?"

The Common Mistake of Samson's Story

Most people misread Samson's story. They see a man of amazing strength, having made some mistakes, but atoning for his failures by his sacrificial death. Through this lens, the summary statement of Samson's fall becomes a celebration of his life.

And Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines." Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.

Judges 16:30

But this statement is not a triumphant celebration, it's a tragic "what if" much like many of the fallen athletes Lewis speaks of in The Blind Side.

Unlike Lewis' profiles, Samson was born with an incredible opportunity. I would argue that outside of Jesus, there is not another birth more hopeful than Samson's (Judges 13). The hope of Samson was that as a man set apart from God, he would be endued with superhuman strength and "begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines (Judges 13:5)."

But did you know that Samson is the only judge in the Book of Judges never to garner an army, fight a war, or free his people? Samson doesn't fight the enemy. He sleeps with them. 

Samson despised restrictions, deceived his parents, demanded his way, and destroyed his opportunity. In the end, the man who tore a lion to pieces becomes careless. He is captured, blinded, and chained to a post. A freakishly strong man becomes a sideshow at a pagan festival. He is far from heroic. 

But in a moment of clarity, he asks God for a measure of grace to at least do something in his death he should have done in his life. 

But that's not a statement of celebration. It's the ultimate "what if?" What if he had lived like he died - dedicated? 

We should all fear two words. "What if?" May our dedication to God not be near our death, but in the fullness of life. May we take advantage of our opportunity and not end up another tragic story of someone who slept with the world instead of pointing them to the Savior.

Bible Study and Challenge

Read Judges 13.

  • How was Samson's mission and manner of life supposed to be?
  • List ways that this passage reflects God's faithfulness to His promises?
  • How does this passage help us to understand the depravity of man in sin?


In Judges 13:12 Samson's father asks a great question about his son. "What is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission?" Our manner of life must match our mission. What is something God has called you to do, but your manner of life betrays your mission? Repent of those actions and make changes.

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