Have you ever said no to God? Dalen Keys, writer of the meditation published in The Upper Room for November 22 and our guest blogger today, considers the story of Esther as a study in answering God’s call – or not:
I always enjoy the time with my Sunday school class, but especially when we are studying the Old Testament. Our class has become like family, allowing us to discuss things very openly (i.e., ask stupid questions) without feeling any judgment. I really enjoyed teaching from the Old Testament because it challenged me – the customs are strange and the styles are different. This made me dig into my lesson even more intensely so that I could try to gain a few small nuggets of understanding before teaching.
We had been working our way through Esther for the last few weeks and we were now studying the fourth chapter. As usual, we read through the passage and then talked about anything that might catch our attention or on which any of us might have a question. On this particular morning, it was me that was really struck by the words. “If you remain silent at this time” jumped off the page at me. It’s strange how God works. I had spent days preparing for the lesson and it wasn’t until I was in the class that these words came alive to me.
I often make the mistake of thinking of Old Testament Bible characters as almost mythical, sometimes even superhuman. I’m blown away by their courage, wisdom, and faith. Of course, I know that Esther was a real person, but it’s hard for me to imagine her as a real person — a person who is terrified in this situation. She was the new queen and she being asked to step in front of the king to defend her people – the people that he had just given the royal proclamation to kill. She must have known what had happened to Vashti and she must have expected the same, or worse, to happen to her. She knew that Xerxes didn’t like his queen to challenge his authority, and yet she was being asked to do just that.
I wonder if she tried to get out of it. I can picture her in a quiet, nervous conversation with Mordecai saying, “For goodness sake, I just became the queen. Can’t you let me enjoy it just for a little while? Do I really have to do this right now? Let’s give it a little time; it might just blow over.” Whatever really happened, she knew that she had to follow God’s will. She realized that she was indeed placed there for a reason.
The words “if you remain silent at this time” rang inside my head and made me question myself. I too often take the pathway of “let’s just let this blow over” or “I don’t have the time” or even “I don’t think I have the ability to do that.” I thought back on the numerous opportunities I’d been given to serve in my church or the community when I’d played the “I don’t have the time” game. Looking back, it made me wonder if I had been placed there for such a time as that – and yet I had turned it down. I know that God is in control of my life and placed me there to help carry out his plan. I could have been God’s tool, but I’d turned down the opportunity. Yikes!
One thing is for sure; God’s will was fulfilled without me, but that stings even more. Next time, I’ll step up to the task, like Esther, and I’ll be in the heart of God’s will. I won’t remain silent!