"America's Got Talent" is a fascinating show for me. It features the best of America and, unfortunately, the worst. Many of the contestants are honestly gifted individuals whose talent is staggering. As I watch, I wonder where these people have been all these years. Then there are those who, as I watch, I wonder if these people have ever looked up the definition to the word, "talent." The judges got the talent pool down to the top forty for the most recent competition. On August 26, ten acts competed. On August 27, five were eliminated. Four according to popular vote. One via the judges pick. The last two acts who were left on the stage were the two acts which received the fifth and sixth most votes; The James Gang, a song and dance troup, and Elite, a pre-teen female martial artist.

You could tell how much the judges appreciated the talent of both of the acts, but in the end they chose The James Gang. The little girl was crushed. The James Gang hugged her and as she was leaving the stage, one of The James Gang did something so totally refreshing and unique. He picked up the little girl onto his shoulder and walked her out onto the runway encouraging the audience to give the young lady her due; to give her her "props." The young lady came in sixth in a ten act competition with only five winners, but was made to feel like a winner, and given hope to coninue, by the selfless act of her competition.

Judges 13 - 16 tells the story of Samson. Every time I read this story I am reinforced in my dislike for this man. He was arrogant, self-centered, shamelessly flaunting his power for his own gain. In other words, not too unlike many of today's professional athletes. If Samson were alive today he would be a star in Mixed Martial Arts. Gratefully, he isn't. What always amazes me in this story is that, while I prejudicially evaluate Samson, God knew what He had all along and knew exactly how to use the strong man. Samson became God's tool to humiliate and punish the Philistines.

For every flagrant act violating his Nazirite vow, Samson would wade into the fray and demonstrate to the enemy that, in spite of their abundant numbers, God can defeat them with one surrendered individual blessed by God. Samson is a Christ figure in this, foreshadowing the work of Jesus as a solitary figure hanging on the cross and defeating Satan and all he has helping him, to claim mankind as his prize. One who is reading the account of Samson for the first time might actually applaud the cocky Israelite's capture and torture as that which "serve's him right." But the bottom line with those chosen for God's service is that God tolerates the times of failure as long as there is a time of return, or repentence.

Samson's final act, recorded in Judges 16:23-31, describes the blind, and seemingly immasculated, hero brought in for one last bout of entertainment at Samson's expense. His vow restored, Samson devised a plan to punish the Philistines one last time. As Samson collapsed the structure of the arena in which he was to perform he killed more people in that one shot than all the times before in battle. God gave Samson his props. Was Samson's act merely an act of vengeance or a final act of surrender to his God? Let's leave that to God. What we must wrestle with is the question of the day. How many times will God give us our props before we finally decide to stay with Him in a life of surrender?