|copyrighted art by Betty Fraley|
I love the story of Esther as written in the Bible. I am enchanted with her beauty, and her new found courage. Her heart is tied to her family roots, and their destiny is dependent on her. It must have been difficult for Esther when suddenly the fate of her people was her responsibility.
The picture the Bible paints of Esther up to this moment is that she is a very compliant woman. She was eager to please others. Esther 2:19 explains that she continued to respect Mordecai, her uncle who reared her, and follow his instructions even when she had become queen. The picture I have always imagined was an uncertain young woman. She was not mature and her beauty and sweet nature were her gifts. She was timid and unsure of herself.
Through various circumstances, she was advanced to become the Queen of King Xerxes. Esther had not told anyone her heritage. Chapter four describes Esther’s time of stress. When the king’s decree to destroy all Jews was published, Mordecai, like other Jews wept and wore sackcloths and mourned. Haman, a high court official, had initiated this plan because he thought Mordecai had undeserved rewards. Haman was determined to have revenge. Because of the king's edict, Mordecai urged Esther to go to Xerxes and beg mercy for her people.
The story continues with more stress, turns, and surprises. I will share those in a later blog. I just want to discuss Esther’s dilemma this week.
Many times I have felt unprepared for something God has asked of me. I, like Esther, did not have innate courage,or I didn’t think I did. Then, God intervened and used circumstances, people, and timing to give me courage. I was anxious and fearful to go to Kazakhstan the first time. I worried about leaving my children and grandchild and never being allowed to return. My heritage had taught me to fear Russians, and now God was asking me to go to their original land and share with their teachers some American strategies of education. I didn’t feel prepared , and I didn’t know the language of the Kazakhs or the Russians. God made the way. The teachers I taught knew English. I didn’t need to know their language; they knew mine. I stayed in one of the Kazakhs' home and that family broke down any barriers I had about Russians and Kazakhs hating Americans. They extended the warmest hospitality I had ever received. God placed many translators in my path and made my way easy. I just had to go.
Esther had to go to court without being summoned by the King. This was punishable by death. She risked going because Mordecai instructed her to do this to save all Jews.
Now, my issues were not as important or stressful as Esther’s. Yet, I had to take a chance. I too was a people pleaser, and I didn’t know the courage within until God gave me the opportunity to serve in a new capacity. Both Esther and I were women, who knew what was required of us. I learned from this Bible story a lesson on how God cares for us. He intervenes for us. He is fully capable of what happens in our “real” world. Because of Esther’s story, I knew God would make all provisions needed. He did. For this I am grateful. Thank you Queen Esther for teaching me to trust and take that first step. I knew God would take the second one.