Esther 1:1–2:23, 2 John 7–13, Psalm 116:1–19
For the past week, my desktop computer has resisted a software update to the point that I’ve had to reinstall the operating system, not once but twice. This morning someone told me he solved that problem by buying a different computer. Before he gave that advice, I started reading the book of Esther.
The story begins with King Ahasuerus having a months-long party. He was a pagan king who ruled much territory as well as the Jews who were under his control. Toward the end of this big party, he hosted a huge banquet and “asked his servants to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.” (Esther 1:11–12)
Why did Queen Vashti refuse? She must have known that disobedience to the king could mean disaster for her. She could lose her position, even her head. Yet I know the rest of the story; God used this to bring Esther into the place He wanted for her so she could save His people from destruction.
After the banquet, the King eventually got over his anger and remembered Vashti, what she had done and what had been decreed against her. His young men urged him, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king . . . and let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” He thought this was a good idea, so he did it. (Esther 2:1-4)
Esther was one of the young women selected. After a long time in the harem, she was introduced to the king. The Bible says that he “loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” (Esther 2:17)
The sequence of events in this entire story point to the sovereignty of God. He knew how an enemy of His people would work out a plan to kill all the Jews. He put Esther in a position to influence the king and save them from annihilation. Then I thought about my computer.
Yes, I might solve the problem by using my wallet (or a big hammer), but is there a plan of God in this, something I do not know about or cannot foresee? Is God trying to slow me down so I don’t do something too soon? Is He trying to teach me contentment? Or deeper patience? Or to trust Him when my plans are not successful? Whatever it is, as soon as these ideas entered my head, my frustrated heart became still. God had a plan that neither Vashti or Esther knew about, but they did what they did and out of it, God did what only He can do. I’m content knowing that He knows more than I do, and that He is in charge of all things.
Another idea for today flows out of the message at church. The pastor spoke of how Christians live with one foot in this world and the other foot in the next. That is, we stand in a world that requires responsibilities and all sorts of things, most of which will not make it into eternity. The other foot stands in the Kingdom of God, the realm of worship, faith, and living as Christ in all of our situations. Those who have a foot in each world must be aware of which foot to stand on.
For instance, when something happens to thwart my efforts, the foot in this world would grumble, complain, and try to fix it as quickly as possible. The foot in the next world would seek the will of God, trust that He has a plan, and rest in confidence that He will give direction. Regarding my computer, I had to decide which foot to stand on, just as Esther had to decide the will of God about going into a harem where she could be accepted by the king or rejected and discarded.
The will of God does not always make sense. Those who live in this world will shake their head at us, and sometimes their fist. Nevertheless, we are supposed to follow the teaching of God in all matters, and stand on the foot firmly planted in His world, not be lured into standing on the other foot.
“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (2 John 9–11)
For most of last week, I was standing on the wrong foot. Who would guess that the story of Esther would cause me to shift my weight? Now I am amazed at the grace of God and the peace in my heart. My ailing computer is still sick, but standing on the right foot means that this is no longer a grievous issue. Instead, I’m looking forward and wondering how God will fit this mini-trial into His grand plan.
“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” (Psalm 116:5–7)