October 14, 2013

Esther

I love Gennean's heart for the Lord, and it's been a pleasure to be a loyal reader of her blog for the last couple of years. I always appreciate her thoughts and insights in studying scripture, so it's such a treat to have her here today sharing on Esther. Be sure to follow her blog, as well as keep her in your prayers as you'll later read, she's on quite a whirlwind of change and adventure at the moment!

When Natalie first asked if I'd be interested in writing a post for this series, I jumped at the chance to dive a little deeper into the life of a woman from the Bible. If only I had realized that this post would be written in the midst of a crazy cross-country move from California to Tennessee, maybe I would have declined. Funny enough, I believe the Lord had other plans, especially considering that I got Esther.

Now I think it is safe to assume that many of us know the general story of what happened with Esther, but allow me to give you a recap...

Esther was a Jew who, because of her beauty and charm, caught the eye of King Xerxes and so became queen.  In the midst of this major life change for her, a guy named Haman, who was close to the king, decided that he wanted to destroy all of the Jewish people because of his disdain for one in particular: Mordecai, Esther's cousin. When Mordecai found out about Haman's plan, he urged Esther to plead with the king to spare her people. Unfortunately, King Xerxes had not summoned Esther to see him - which could result in her death if she chose to approach him on her own - and up until this point, he also did not know that she was of Jewish heritage. Though Esther initially tried to brush off the responsibility out of what I believe was fear (for which I don't quite blame her), she eventually realized that there was a greater purpose that needed to be served above her own life.

So what happened?  First, Mordecai uttered his infamous words to Esther: "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14).  To that, she responded by asking all of the Jews to join her in fasting for three days as she prepared to approach the king, ending her plea with the words, "When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law.  And if I perish, I perish." (4:16).  She then threw two banquets for King Xerxes and Haman, and at the second presented her request to the king: to spare her life and the lives of her people. King Xerxes granted her request, had Haman impaled on a pole that he himself had put up for the intended death of Mordecai, and the Jews end up triumphing.  

All because Esther stepped up to the plate.

Now, as much as I wish I could tell you all that I studied this passage in-depth through different commentaries and articles, the truth is that I haven't. Normally, searching through the historical context and meanings of Scripture is something that I absolutely love to do.  However, as I have been living out of suitcases in the trunk of my car (not kidding), bouncing around in CA and now sleeping on my friend's couch in TN... I have been a little bit overwhelmed. And yet, in spite my unscholarly and somewhat distracted study of her life, I have come up with three key things that I believe we can learn from Esther's story.

First, Esther trusted in God's placement of her. Her whole life growing up, I doubt she ever thought she would be a queen, yet God had a plan for her from the very beginning. He placed her right where she ended up - in the palace with king Xerxes - so that she would serve a greater calling than anything she could have ever imagined.

Second, she trusted God to use her and do His work through her. I wouldn't doubt that Esther may have felt inadequate, not up for the task, or too small to really make a difference. Yet the truth is that for those that God calls, the hardest thing that must be done is to obey His prompting.  

Third, we see that fear has no place in the life of one who follows God. Esther was undoubtedly afraid of what might have happened when she sought to present her request to the king, but in the end, she said, "If I perish, I perish." And then she kept walking forward in faith in the One who had called her.

And the same is true for each of us. If we have chosen to follow God, we need to know that He will call us to hard things. Things that don't make sense, things that we may not feel qualified for, or things that just seem crazy to those around us. The question then becomes: will we trust that He has placed us where we are? Will we trust God to use us to do His work? Will we continue to walk forward in faith regardless of what could happen?

In retrospect, it is no surprise that God chose for me to write on Esther considering what He has been doing in my life the last few months. If this spikes your curiosity, be sure to check out my blog.

4 comments :

  1. As a sister who is easily overwhelmed, I applaud this writing and thank you for it. :) After popping over to your blog to read your little backstory to this, I felt in reality what the Lord is doing in your life and how you've so transparently let us in to what He showed you with Esther's story. Loooooved it, and I affectionately amen to every word!

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  2. This is great! I love the story of Esther's courage and willingness to be used by God. I find it so interesting that God is not mentioned in all of Esther. Prayer and fasting are, but not God specifically. I remember being confused with this when I was younger. I listened to a teaching by Beth Moore a few years ago and she stated that the absence of any mention of God DOES NOT mean He was not present. No, instead, His hand was all over the pages of this short narrative. The lesson I take from this is that God is behind the scenes even when not visibly seen. And His absence in the book only adds to the narrative because it shows the importance of the trust that you mention. If God was easily seen, there would be no reason to have faith, but instead, faith is the evidence of things not seen... and the story of Esther is a great story of faith. It's also very cool that Esther is one of 2 books in the Bible titled after a woman (Ruth, who I really hope will be part of this awesome study, is the other). How beautiful that God intended His Story to include the smaller story of Esther? That just proves even more the importance of the lessons drawn from her courageous example

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  3. Hi There! Isn't it wonderful to know that God has chosen a particular time for you to write this piece for Natalie? I love your image of 'stepping up to the plate', it reminds me of the adage: "get out of the boat". All calls to action. And as you pointed out, not always fun stuff. We are often called to things that really challenge. But what a pay-off!

    I need to challenge myself more and trust that God will see me through. Thank you for this post today :) Blessings on your move too.
    Ceil

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  4. Love the story of Esther, and your take on it. We all have our moments to step up and follow the Holy Spirit's leading-probably daily. Good luck on your move!

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