I am very capable of getting on my high horse, refusing to do something that I don’t consider to be my thing and digging my heals in. Principles are all well and good, but sometimes sticking to them loses you a way in to a situation that otherwise you would not be able to help in. Sometimes you just have to eat things you would rather not, go to places you would prefer not to, even be subjected to doing things that are not really your bag – but it gains the other’s trust and earns you a hearing that you wouldn’t get if your answer to everything was, “I’m not doing that!” Coming across as too good or too special to do what others enjoy, or have to do to get by, helps no one’s case!
The Book of Esther is a cracking good story, full of intrigue, twit, plot and counter-plot (if you’ve never read it from beginning to end, do take some time to). It also contains some elements that seem out-dated and demeaning of women with our 21st centaury eyes. But most of all it is the story of one woman who’s life personifies living God’s ways. What a strength of character and faith she shows.
The cost to Esther was risk, leaving her life, perhaps ignoring her principles and better judgement at times.
And now, this her moment, her opportunity. After all she has gone through to get to this place, all the beauty pageants, the grooming, the gaining the good will of the king – now she can speak. What she did meant that she could be in the right place at the right time when her opportunity to speak up for God and his people came up. The kings asks Esther what she wants, and because she has built up his good will, she is able to tell him of Haman’s plot and her people are rescued. Her willingness to put herself in that place saves a whole nation – God’s people. If she hadn’t of been in that place, that situation, she would not have been able to work for God in it.
Sometimes in life we have to do things we would rather not, sometimes we even have to swallow our principles for the greater good.
What is God needing me to do, that my natural inclination might be to say, “No way”? What is he asking me to do for him that might open doors, regardless of what I think? What attitudes of mine is he challenging? What place is he asking me to go for him – not me? What moment is he preparing me for?
help me not to be so high-principled
that I miss your opportunities,
so fixed in my ways
that I miss your ways,
so convinced I know what is right
that I forget what is right for you.
May I hear your call,
follow where you take me
and be ready
to speak for you
in the places you take me to.
I couldn’t find a video for this song, but I’ll leave it with Noel Richards to sum it up:
Here we are Lord
More weak than strong
Still pressing on
Make us ready
With hearts that are brave
We will silence
The lies of this age
For such a moment
We have been born
We’re gonna rise up
Take this world by storm
Let evil tremble
We come in his name
Our God is with us
We’re dangerous people
All God’s heroes
Failed as we do
All that is true
Yet he calls us
Great people of faith
Working through us
As history is made
Esther 7:1-10, 9:20-22 CEV)
Haman Is Punished
7 The king and Haman were dining with Esther 2 and drinking wine during the second dinner, when the king again said, “Esther, what can I do for you? Just ask, and I will give you as much as half of my kingdom!”
3 Esther answered, “Your Majesty, if you really care for me and are willing to help, you can save me and my people. That’s what I really want, 4 because a reward has been promised to anyone who kills my people. Your Majesty, if we were merely going to be sold as slaves, I would not have bothered you.”
5 “Who would dare to do such a thing?” the king asked.
6 Esther replied, “That evil Haman is the one out to get us!”
Haman was terrified, as he looked at the king and the queen.
7 The king was so angry that he got up, left his wine, and went out into the palace garden.
Haman realized that the king had already decided what to do with him, and he stayed and begged Esther to save his life.
8 Just as the king came back into the room, Haman got down on his knees beside Esther, who was lying on the couch. The king shouted, “Now you’re even trying to rape my queen here in my own palace!”
As soon as the king said this, his servants covered Haman’s head. 9 Then Harbona, one of the king’s personal servants, said, “Your Majesty, Haman built a tower seventy-five feet high beside his house, so he could hang Mordecai on it. And Mordecai is the very one who spoke up and saved your life.”
“Hang Haman from his own tower!” the king commanded. 10 Right away, Haman was hanged on the tower he had built to hang Mordecai, and the king calmed down.
The Festival of Purim
20 Mordecai wrote down everything that had happened. Then he sent letters to the Jews everywhere in the provinces 21 and told them:
Each year you must celebrate on both the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Adar, 22 the days when we Jews defeated our enemies. Remember this month as a time when our sorrow was turned to joy, and celebration took the place of crying. Celebrate by having parties and by giving to the poor and by sharing gifts of food with each other.