This is it… the week with the famous chapter with that famous verse.
“For such a time as this…”
It would seem a romantic story to get to this well-known portion of the book, but the truth is, the glamorous, movie-like scenes of banquets and beauty treatments and wealth and honor are long gone once we hit Esther, chapter 4.
No glam. No glory. No easy road from here. Even Esther’s position as Queen no longer guarantees her future.
And this unpredictable, winding, drama-filled road reminds me much of the Christian life. Oh, make no mistake, we know full well how that story ends. But final victory doesn’t guarantee a life filled with ease.
I remember well the beauty, excitement and overwhelming joy I had early on in my walk with my Savior. I had experienced Jesus’ sacrifice for me fresh and anew, and grace had rocked me to my core. I was young, hopeful, and willing to risk the things of this world in order to elevate the name of the One who gave His life for me.
And then somewhere – somehow – in the midst of all of the effort of living, life got complicated and a little too comfortable, and those risks – those sacrifices that once were worth it all – suddenly seemed too much to bear.
“For such a time as this?” God, I think I’ll sit this one out. Surely it’s someone else’s turn by now…
It wasn’t God who had changed.
No, God hadn’t become less sovereign or less trustworthy or less worthy of my all. I had just failed to see Him as I once did.
And even now in my humanness, my default is often to limit God before He has a chance to act. I want to know how it’s all going to turn out before deeming the risk worthy of the sacrifice. But when we limit God from working through us, we’re the ones who are missing out. You see, saying, “Not me, not now…” doesn’t limit God’s fulfillment of His plan, it just limits our participation in the greater story He’s writing that we can’t yet see.
So how do we prepare ourselves to be used by God? Consider these lessons from Esther, chapter 4:
1. Invest wisely now, because it will matter later.
Esther’s influence didn’t begin with one risky decision in the palace that day. A series of right choices (powered by Sovereignty) led her to a position of royalty and respect, which was crucial to her effectiveness when the time came to stand up for her people. What you do now matters. Whether you’re sixteen or sixty, investing intentionally today can lead to open doors for you to be used by God tomorrow.
2. There is a time to mourn, but don’t stay there.
Chapter 4 begins with an intense scene where Mordecai deeply mourns for his people, and understandably so: they have just been condemned to death. Think of how different, though, the outcome of this chapter might have been had Mordecai continued in that defeated role. At some point, Mordecai made the choice to transition from someone in bitter despair to that of key initiator in the action plan that would save the Jewish nation. Mourn for the appropriate time, but don’t let your mourning take away your hope in God and linger to the point where God can’t use you. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” ~ Psalm 30:5
3. Prepare for battle by first being still.
Though prayer is not specifically mentioned in this chapter, it is paired with fasting in the Old Testament. Before rushing into a risky decision hastily, Esther and others spent three days fasting and in prayer. How many times have I acted quickly, making rushed decisions before even consulting the Lord, only to look back and regret my haste? When we humbly submit to God’s authority, wisdom and strength in our weakness, bowing before Him in reverence and submission, only then are we properly prepared for battle.
4. Recognize the potential of your position.
God placed Esther in a specific place for a specific time. Her answer wasn’t, “Maybe later” or “I’m not equipped as some” or, “My life is in a pretty great place right now, and I really don’t feel like messing it up.” Instead, she took ownership of her influential role and didn’t back down when it meant that the road wouldn’t be easy. God places us in relationships at the workplace, the home, the church, the soccer field, the courtroom, the hospital room and thousands of places in between, and gives us each unique spheres of influence where we can live boldly for Him. Do you recognize the potential of your position, or are you spending your time just desperately wishing God would pick someone else?
5. Be ready to take the right risks.
Risk is a tricky thing, because there is a profound difference between foolish risk and God-exalting risk. That said, there are plenty of stories in the Bible where ordinary people took God-exalting risks, which led to God using them in extraordinary ways for His Kingdom. In the words of John Piper, “It is right to risk for the cause of God,” and in the words of Esther, sometimes – as risky as it sounds – it is right to say, “If I perish, I perish.”
6. Remember to Whom you belong.
When risk decisions arise, the story endings – more often than not – won’t always be clear. Outcomes aren’t promised in this world… only the final victory that we have through Jesus over sin and death. But with God on our side, we can obediently say “yes” to where He leads us, because His sovereignty always leads to our good and His glory. When we spend time in God’s Word, remembering who Jesus is and what He has done for us, we are once again reminded that we are safe in His arms, that He is more than capable to accomplish His will, and that He is more than worthy of our lives…
“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves,
but our competence comes from God.
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.”
At His Feet,
*LET’S TALK: Which of these six points do you struggle with the most? Share in the comments section below, and I’d be honored to pray for you this week.
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