Monday, April 30, 2007

Esther Revisited

This weekend, our church held something of a Singles Conference for us. The thrust of the weekend was: God is Sovereign. No matter your circumstances, do not EVER separate His Sovereignty from His Love for you. He never gives 2nd best to His children.

As it happened, this morning, I went back one year in my blog and found a post I'd written about was very timely, so I thought I'd re-post it here.

I’ve been studying through the Book of Esther via the Revive Our Hearts Radio Broadcasts. One thing that strikes me as I read through this book is something I talked about in my last post regarding how stories are told.

The Book of Esther chronicles the events surrounding God’s work in the lives of the people exiled in Persia and the advent of the Feast of Purim. It is a small book, and we get the highlights and very little else. It is easy to read through this book and see Esther’s and Moredecai’s responses and actions as matter-of-fact, second nature, and happening without much emotion or wrestling or any of the things we typically do when we are faced with difficult, even dangerous, situations. But, there is nothing new under the sun. Just like us, Esther and Mordecai were clothed in bodies of flesh, dealt with indwelling sin and were people of “like passions” as us.

The accepted, yet somewhat unspoken or glossed over facts of the story are these: Esther was a teenager. She was orphaned then taken by force from her cousin, Moredecai, who had adopted her and cared for her after the death of her parents. She was taken, likely, from a village surrounded by other family and friends of similar heritage, and brought into the capital city of Persia and inducted into the harem of the king. She had to know things about the king and his lifestyle. I would imagine that stories, some true some exaggerated, had been told throughout the kingdom. She and Mordecai had probably heard of the king’s drunkenness, his temper, how he had deposed his queen and of his harem of concubines.

I don’t believe she went into this with romantic notions of being rescued by a king in gleaming robes and that she would live happily ever after. She also had to know that life as she knew it, as she perhaps dreamed it would be, was over. If the king chose her, she would be wed to him for life…for better and likely for worse. If he did not, she would be assigned to his harem forever and could never marry or have a family and would simply be at his sexual service as long as he desired to keep her. She had to have been at the very least anxious about what awaited her. She had to have done some wrestling with the Lord over this. There had to have been emotions…strong emotions to deal with, both for her and for Mordecai. What man could stand to see a girl they love conscripted into a harem?

But we don’t see any of that in the story. What you do see are people (I believe despite emotions and fears and uncertainty and knowledge of the natural realities) doing what they believe will most honor the Lord regardless of their circumstances…and doing so in an obviously thoughtful, prayerful and purposeful way. Esther and Mordecai had no way of knowing that she would become Queen. They couldn’t foresee Haman’s wicked plot to destroy the Jews, and how having Esther in the palace would be used of the Lord to provide a way of escape for them. But whoever wrote the story knew that…and all of the horror, the fears, the tears, the anxiety fall by the wayside and give way to joy in God’s sovereign care for His people. And, I believe, it also shows us the importance of obedience, especially in times when we can’t see our way clear, when nothing makes sense, and when we are afraid.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss says: “God’s will is exactly what you would choose if you knew all that God knows.” Esther and Mordecai could not know that their situation would end the way the hoped it would…but they apparently did know how the Lord had cared for and delivered His people in the past, and that He would do so again.

Lord, allow us to remember your sovereign hand of providence in each little square of time we find ourselves…no matter how bad, how scary or how uncertain it may be. Though we only see what Joni Earekson Tada called “the tangled underside” of the tapestry of our lives, give us spiritual eyes to see the valley’s you’ve brought us through in the past, the mountains you’ve helped us to scale and joyfully trust you to do so again and again and again. Let us choose obedience. Let us trust you enough to reign in our emotions and trust your goodness. Let us, by our obedience, exalt you over ourselves and proclaim you as holy in the eyes of the people.

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