privilege and preparation // lessons from Esther

Hi friends, it’s been a minute.  I don’t like the saying “life has just gotten busy for me lately” because I feel like that’s just an excuse to miss out on the good stuff, but in all honesty, life has been really busy lately.  Junior year is hard!!!  But it has also been busy with GOOD things.  Like really good things.  It has been a semester full of truth and learning and growth in all the right places, and I felt it was finally time to start sharing what I’ve been learning.

Which brings me to today, and these ideas that I’ve had bouncing around in my head for a while—the ideas of Privilege and Preparation, which I believe go hand in hand.

I’ve had the blessing of leading a group of girls alongside a dear friend of mine through the book of Esther these past few weeks, and man have we just learned so much from Esther’s story.  I specifically landed about two weeks ago on chapters 3 and 4, and the truth of these chapters has been weighing on my heart ever since.  Chapter 4 is where we see the ever-quotable verse, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

For such a time as this.  Goodness do I love that verse.  To me, chapters 3, and 4 are about the two things that I mentioned a second ago:  privilege and preparation.  First, the former.  It is a privilege to take part in the work of God.

Let me say that again.  It is a privilege, not a right, to take part in the work of God.  God does not by any means need my humanly help to accomplish His heavenly plans.  I feel like sometimes we can be living on a “spiritual high” if you will and feel really good about ourselves and the church and life and we can start to think that God needs us to share His gospel.  And that’s when the enemy gets us.  Because God doesn’t need our help, He wants it and invites it, and there’s a huge difference there.  He invites us to join Him for our sake—there is nothing we could possibly do on our own to further the Kingdom of God.

But, along that, if we “miss” an opportunity, that doesn’t mean the Gospel just disappears.  And this is a vital point.  I used to think that if by the time I graduated high school I hadn’t convinced my friend who wasn’t a believer to go to church with me at least once, then that was not only a missed opportunity but also that I had failed God and that maybe this girl would never have another opportunity to encounter Jesus because of me.  Oh my goodness how false this way of thinking is!!!!! Just because we choose not to take part in what God is doing does not mean that His work ceases to exist.  It just hinders our privilege to join in His work.

Which leads me to the next part.  Preparation.  Practically the whole story of Esther, all 10 chapters, is a story of preparation.

If you’ve never read or studied Esther, let me give you a quick overview of what I mean.  In chapter 1, Queen Vashti angers the King and that paves the way for the whole pageant that Esther partakes in that eventually leads to her becoming queen.  In chapter 2, Esther becomes queen, which she could not have done if Queen Vashti had not been removed from the story.  In chapter 3, Haman plans to kill all of the Jews because he is angered by Mordecai, but in chapter 8 Esther is able to save the Jews because she is now queen and has favor in the eyes of the King, which goes all the way back to Queen Vashti being removed from the throne and Esther being chosen as queen.  And the Jews being saved through Esther’s work eventually paves the way for Jesus.  Everything ties together.  Every step is preparation for the next step.

The beauty in all of this is that Esther is just a vessel.  So is Queen Vashti.  Neither woman realizes the impact she is making or the way in which her actions are huge in the preparation of what is to come.  They are just vessels through which God accomplishes His plans and through which great things come, but greatness is not what they aspired for.

So that leads me to us.  Have you ever thought about what God might be using you for?  Have you ever wondered late at night if you really are making an impact?  If anything you’re doing is actually worth it?  Can I tell you what the book of Esther would say?  You may never know the impact you have had on someone or something.  Esther never fully knew.  Sure, she knew that she “saved the Jews.”  But did she know that in doing so she would help pave the way for the coming of the Messiah?  Probably not.  She was just responding in faith to her God and trying to honor her people with grace.  That’s it.

One of the most important things we can take away from the book of Esther is often the most overlooked, in my opinion, and that is the story of Mordecai.  Take a look at this verse from chapter 10, that also happens to be the very last verse in the book of Esther:

“Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held up in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of the Jews.” —Esther 10:3 (emphasis added)

Man is this a packed verse.  The first thing I see in this is the lasting impact that Mordecai made.  He was held in high esteem by his fellow Jews because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of the Jews.  Mordecai stood up for his people, worked tirelessly for their good, expecting nothing in return except their good, and then so much good happens that there is a Jewish holiday still celebrated today because of things he caused!!

Think about that for a second, and how it applies to us now. All Mordecai had to do to have a lasting impact was work for the good of his people and be their spokesperson.  He was doing that in a time when his people were under great stress and torment, and they were facing a very real threat.  We are always facing a threat.  There are always people in need of a spokesperson.  There are people within our own communities who need their own Mordecai to work for the good of the people.  I am challenged today to reevaluate if I really do enough like Mordecai—do I speak up for those without a voice?  Do I go out of my way to work for the good of my people?  If not, what will my legacy be?  Mordecai’s legacy is so strong that it is the subject of the very last verse of Esther—a powerful story of triumph for the Kingdom.  But it is also carried on in Purim—lean in here, this part is great.  The Jewish holiday still celebrated because of what Mordecai did is called Purim because Haman cast the pur (that is, the lot, according to Esther 9:24) for the Jews’ ruin and destruction.  BUT GOD delivered the Jews from a day marked for their destruction, because nothing can thwart the plans of God.  

I can’t think of a better legacy to leave than one that followed the plans of God and worked for the good of his people.  I think sometimes we get so caught up in the worldly idea of legacy, that in order to have “impact” we have to do “big and great things.”  But sometimes great things are small things, the ordinary things that we do every day.  And we can be encouraged by the stories from Esther and Vashti and Mordecai, in that everything we do is in preparation for some other work of God, whether or not we will ever know what that work is.  And in that we can also remind ourselves of the privilege we have to take part in the work of God—for He could do everything without us, but He chooses to invite us to partake anyway.  Because He is just that good.

What an encouragement for today.  I truly hope that if you’re reading this, you also needed to hear these truths from Esther.  Because I for one definitely needed to write them.

A song for today:  You’re Not Finished Yet, by The Belonging Co.

I am tethered to Your every word

My heart ever after Your heart first

I will trust You here, I will trust You here and now

My hope always set in who You are

Even when I can’t see every part

I will trust You here, I will trust You

I won’t forget the things You’ve done

For I know that this is just the beginning

And You’re not finished yet, You’re not finished yet

Until I see Your promise come

God with all I am, I’ll keep believing

That You’re not finished yet, You’re not finished yet

You don’t play games, it’s not who You are

You’re not the type to mislead my heart

I can trust You here, I can trust You here and now

I’ve only known You to keep Your word

I’ve only found love at every turn

I can trust You here, oh I can trust You

[…]

Until the dry bones wake

Until the mountains shake

Until the darkness breaks

I will praise You, I will praise You

Until the dry bones wake

Until the mountains shake

Until the darkness breaks

Ooh I will praise You, I will praise You

Until the dry bones wake

Until the mountains shake

Until the darkness breaks

Ooh I will praise You, I will praise You

I won’t forget the things You’ve done

For I know that this is just the beginning

And You’re not finished yet, You’re not finished yet

Until I see Your promise come

God with all I am, I’ll keep believing

That You’re not finished yet, You’re not finished yet

So applicable to today and everyday.  May we never forget the things that God has done for us and may we always look expectantly to the future things that we know He will do.

xoxox, meg

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