Wednesday, March 12, 2014

For such a time as this

The Biblical book of Esther reads like a movie. (Oh yeah, it has been made into several movies.) Here's the short of it.

Xerxes is the king of Persia (from 486 to 464 BC) and his wife, Vashti, has been thrown out of the palace and de-queened for not running to the king when beckoned. The king then begins a search for a lovely young virgin girl, his servants combing the kingdom for the best candidates. But from the gathered masses of long locks and curvacious figures, Esther captures the King's eye. As it turns out, she becomes queen.

But the story is not so simple. Esther's cousin, Mordecai, had raised Esther as his own when both her
parents died. So as any protective parent would do, Mordecai spent his days near the king's gate, hoping to keep an eye on the young queen of Jewish descent, having warned her not to reveal her heritage. His diligence was even responsible for overhearing a plot to kill the king, thwarting the plan when Esther offered timely warning.

However, the king's right-hand man, Haman, was a powerful and vengeful man. People everywhere bowed the knee as he passed by. People everywhere, that is, except for Mordecai as he spent his days gate gazing. The egotistical, power-hungry Haman was so incensed that he not only plotted to kill Mordecai but all of his people group, the Jews. Haman ran to the king, convincing him to render an edict that would annihilate the people whose "customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them" (Esther 3:8).

The king agreed. But little did Xerxes know his queen was a Jew, in fact, the cousin of this Mordecai. Maintaining his vilgilence at the gate, Mordecai dressed in rags and ashes as he mourned imminent mass murder. Nevertheless, he was able to get word to Esther. He tells her of the plot and pleads for her to approach the King and beg for their lives. This was not, however, a simple feat. Death was assured for Esther if she entered the majesty's presence without invitation. Nevertheless, Mordecai says this: "Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:12-14)

The story has a providential ending. Esther reveals Haman's real intent, Haman find himself impaled on the pole intended for Mordecai, Mordecai is honored and brought into the palace, and the Jewish population is spared and protected from future harm by royal decree. You have to love this historical story.

But what resounds with me is that little phrase, "for such a time as this." It was not happenstance that Mordecai loved and raised his orphan cousin as his own. It was not coincidence that Esther found herself in the exclusive "queen-in-training" program. It was not lucky she found favor in the sight of the king. Neither was it fluke that Mordecai became the unlikely unraveler of plots against the king and the Jewish people. Seeing the providential events unfold, he reminds Esther that she is where she is soley "for such a time as this."

I just had a birthday, my fifty-seventh. Though I am not someone who gets all excited about holidays, even my own birthday, having one puts things in perspective. I've had many experiences in all these years. Some have been pleasant, some hard, lessons learned, some unfortunately ignored. But the sum total of my years has equipped me "for such a time as this."

I am looking at making some major changes. These changes would not have been feasible fifteen years ago, perhaps not even three. But I am convinced that God has orchestrated events and equipped me with certain skills, passions, and abilities to fill a new role. Is it a little scary? Sure. However,  when I look back and understand what has brought me to this place and time, I am grateful. It's like climbing a densely wooded mountain trail. You know you are on the right trail but do not fully appreciate your position until you break onto the open ridge, now able to see from where you've come and what lays ahead. That, my friends, is a gift from God.

Stay tuned for more news in this developing story.

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