Thursday, April 30, 2009

Queen Esther

I just finished rereading the book of Esther. It's a short read, maybe an hour or so from start to finish. The king becomes angry with his queen and announces the search to replace her. A Hebrew man who has raised his niece prepares her to join the competition. The king falls in love with her and she is changed from faceless orphan to queen. A lot of detail happens a long the way and one day Esther has an opportunity to take advantage of her present status by claiming her history and through her courage the Hebrew nation is saved. If you've never read Esther, take an evening or two and learn about this young girl.

I was drawn to this little book of the Bible as I was doing my semiannual self-examination. Am I doing what God wants me to do? Am I even open to hearing his direction if it is something off the familiar path for me? An evening with Queen Esther put my heart right and gave me a new joy for the things of my life that I had been considering burdens. Certainly, it reminded me that it is not my own abilities that will make a difference in the world. It's my submission to God that will make my life meaningful. A few lessons from Esther are worthwhile for all of us to think about.

She had a Godly mentor. Esther's uncle was himself in a position of obedience to God and therefore able to use his place in society to help her find her place. She listened to him and ultimately she obeyed him despite his advice taking her into unfamiliar territory. She recognized that God placed people in her life and did not pick and choose who to listen to based on her own understanding.

She spent a year patiently preparing. For an entire year, Esther lived among other women who were pursuing the king as well. She spent this time making herself beautiful and learning the customs that would be required of her. Knowing her goal; she gave herself completely to the role without worrying that it might be time wasted.

She took on her role with humility. When she became queen, Esther continued to seek the wisdom of her mentor although she had risen above him in status. She didn't take herself so seriously she believed there was nothing left to learn. Now that she was queen, she wanted to know how to do it to God's glory.

She balanced the laws of society with her faith. When her uncle told her to seek the king's attention; she knew this could cost her her life if she did not await his invitation. Instead of brashly storming to the throne room she asked that the people fast and pray for her.

She knew who held her life in his hands. Although on the surface, it seemed the king would choose to spare her life, Esther knew that God held her future. She sought his pleasure before the kings by giving herself to fasting and praying as well. Much as she had spent a year making herself beautiful for her earthly king; she spent time making herself beautiful for her true King.

She earned the right. When Esther finally approached the king he received her with pleasure and love. She had proven herself along the way by guarding her reputation with him. She did not flaunt her position as queen and become offensive. The humble Hebrew girl remained within her and this beauty captured the king's heart.

She remembered her mission. She did not consider being queen her ultimate goal, but to save her people. She took a chance that speaking this request would end her life. But she did not let the temptation of wealth and attention distract her. She knew what God wanted of her and would achieve it whether it brought her a crown or the gallows.

Finally Esther approached her king and having already gained his love through her demeanor he readily invited her to tell him what she wanted. He heard her and took action on her behalf. She never believed herself to be up to any task so she slowed herself down to allow the work to be done in her to make her useful in God's hands.

In order to be a modern-day Esther, I must know whose attention I seek and what to do to make myself beautiful to him. I have to realize I am not entitled to anything and be willing to do the work inwardly and outwardly to become ready for my future. I must pray and fast and lead others in this God-seeking by teaching them to do the same so that when success happens; I have already acknowledged that it was by God's hand. I have to be brave enough to push against the system but have earned the respect of those I challenge. I have to be wise enough to see the people God surrounds me with and learn from them, being always willing to change myself when I learn to be better.

If you're feeling a little out of sorts or wondering about what God plans for you, I recommend an evening with Queen Esther. You might learn that there is a queen in your heart waiting to be presented to the King.

Esther 4:14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

1 comment:

Deb said...

Excellent commentary on one of my favorite Bible characters.