The first inkling I had of my future as a track star was the day I sprinted across the yard with Samson close at my heels.

Running from Sin Like We're Running from Samson by Lori Hatcher via www.jeanwilund.com
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Samson was every newspaper delivery girl’s nightmare. His shaggy black fur made the perfect backdrop for his pearly white fangs. Kinda like diamonds on black velvet, except much scarier.

And he snarled. Ever been around a mean dog that snarled? Samson sounded like a cross between a pig in a food trough and the Tasmanian devil.

Samson was so mean his owners kept him in a pen with a latched lid. Or maybe his owners kept Samson in a pen with a latched lid and that’s what made him so mean, I don’t know. Either way, he was mean.

The lid to his pen, unfortunately, was secured with a simple eye hook, which meant if he lunged against the top hard enough and angrily enough, he could sometimes work the hook loose.

And chase the paper girl, who infuriated him by coming onto his property every afternoon at 3:30 pm.

As soon as I’d turn the corner onto Oliver Street, I could hear him barking. The knot in my stomach formed.

The closer I got to his house, the tighter the knot would grow.

And when I’d round the corner of his house for the long walk to the back door, a mere 20 feet from Samson’s pen, the knot became an icy hot poker that didn’t cool until I was once again safe on the sidewalk.

On that particular day, the day I tried out for the track and field Olympics without planning to, I rounded the corner cautiously. Don’t let him see your fear, my Dad’s voice rang in my head. And never run.

Resisting the urge to bolt down the driveway, fling the newspaper into the space between the storm door and the inside door, and run back, I strolled toward the door.

Running from Sin Like We're Running from Samson by Lori Hatcher via www.jeanwilund.com
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At the first glimpse of me, Samson erupted into a slobbering, demonic rage. Infuriated that I would dare set foot on his property, let alone approach him, he lunged against the top of the pen.

BAM. His head crashed against the lid as it lifted.

BAM. The hook held, and the lid crashed back down.

BAM. His head crashed against the lid again.

BAM. The hook held, and the lid crashed back down.

BAM. His head crashed against the lid as it lifted.

Click. The hook slid from its hook.

Squirm. Slither. Grunt. Snarl.

Samson wormed his way out of the pen and lunged for his prey – ME!

That’s when I accomplished my record-breaking 20-foot dash. Knowing speed was my only defense, I cast Dad’s advice to the wind and ran with all my might toward the apartment door. I knew if I could beat Samson to the door, I might live to run another day.

And I did.

But there was a flaw to my desperate plan. As soon as I flung the screen door open and reached for the inside knob, I knew I was in trouble.

The door was locked.

I was 12 years old at the time. Skinny as a branch from Auntie Bea’s weeping willow tree. My classmates teased me mercilessly. Even my dad called me String Bean. Usually I hated my figure-less figure, but that day, I was thankful to be skinny.

In a feeble final attempt to escape Samson’s snapping jaws, I turned myself sideway, tucked my newspaper bag between me and him, and shut myself into the miniscule space between the two doors, yelling like I was about to be devoured –which I was.

Samson’s barking and my screaming attracted quite a crowd. One neighbor grabbed him by the collar and pulled him away from the door. Another slapped a leash on him and dragged him back to his pen. The homeowner finally opened the door from the inside, causing me to tumble backward and land in a blubbering heap at his feet.

I was safe.

My only regret is that this event happened during the era before security cameras. I sure would have liked to watch a replay of the best race of my life.

I thought of Samson recently. Nightmare experiences never vanish completely, I guess. But unlike the walking-up-screaming-drenched-in-a-cold-sweat replays I sometimes experience, this reminder came in the daylight – during my quiet time.

I read 1 Corinthians 10:13, one of the first verses I memorized as a young believer:

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

This verse continues to remind me that God doesn’t send us into each day without protection. Instead, he always provides a way of escape. We don’t have to sin.

Thankfully, most of us won’t face a snarling, slobbering threat like Samson, but sin and Samson are a lot alike.

We can sometimes grow complacent or overconfident about our vulnerability to sin, thinking we’re immune to its destructive nature.

Sin can catch us unprepared, without a plan to protect ourselves.

If we fail to prepare, sin can injure, scar, devour, and destroy us.

Samson taught me several valuable lessons that day. You don’t have to be a newspaper delivery girl to benefit from them:

  1. Know your enemy. What’s your weakness? Your besetting sin? Sexual temptation? The tendency to abuse alcohol? To go along with the crowd? To gossip? To lie? Knowing Samson was always waiting for me helped me be ready when the threat came.
  2. Know when to call for help. We can fight some battles alone, but others are too big. Don’t be prideful. Ask a godly friend to pray for you and hold you accountable.
  3. Avoid temptation whenever possible. Put up hedges of protection around your vulnerabilities.
  4. Look for the way of escape and take it. God promises it is always there.
Running from Sin Like We're Running from Samson by Lori Hatcher via www.jeanwilund.com
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Three years after my foot race with Samson, I joined the high school track team and lettered in hurdles. I never again came close to my personal best time that day at Samson’s house. But then, he never chased me again. You’d better believe, though, every time I rounded the corner to his house, I was watching and ready to run.

May we be similarly ready for whatever danger comes our way and run from sin like we’re running from Samson.



Running from Sin Like We're Running from Samson by Lori Hatcher via www.jeanwilund.com
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Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of several devotional books. Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women won the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year award. Her most recent book, Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible is due out in the spring of 2020. A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

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