Esther 2:1-4; 2:7-11; 2:15-18; 2:19-23
God has placed on my heart to talk to you about position and timing and how events in our lives might not make sense as they initially unfold. You see this in the lives of several people in the Bible. Mary – betrothed to Joseph but not yet married, young, living in the culture where to have sexual intercourse out of wed lock was a huge issue and could have you stoned to death. To then have an angel turn up and declare you are pregnant was not the best timing. Could he have not waited until the day before her wedding and then Joseph would not have known or had the chance to think about divorcing her all be it quietly?
But no, so there could be no mistake, no denying the baby was born of a virgin, Mary was in the right place at the right time for the angel to deliver the message.
Talking of Joseph lets think about another Joseph for a minute. A spoilt child grown into a young man with an attitude, with a whole bunch of brothers in tow. He had lost his mother, she had died, definitely a hardship for him and his father. He clearly does not get along well with his brothers or they would not have dreamt up killing him. When he is attacked by them there just happens to be a pit near by to throw him in. The one brother was going to go back and get him but nope in comes the travellers and he is sold off to become a slave. He then is placed as a slave in the very house that he then falls victim to a false accusation so things go from bad to worse and off to jail he goes. Then in comes the butler and baker having upset the Pharaoh and you know the story. Yet we go on to learn he is in the right place at the right time to save the nation of Israel from the famine that could have wiped them out. He was in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. But he had endured hardship, pain, loss – loss of his mother, loss of his family, loss of his freedom, loss of his reputation, loss of his wealth, etc. He endured all of this to become the legend, the man second in command to Pharaoh, to be the one to save the nation. Did he understand it when he first started on his journey, when he lost his mother? Highly unlikely. Did he understand it when he had his dream? Doubtful.
Moses, just happened to be born at a time Pharaoh was concerned about too many babies being born and the impact it was having on the slaves as there was more risk of an uprising as their numbers grew. Just happened to be floating down the river at the same time daughter of Pharaoh was having her dip, just happened to be heard, just happened to have his own mother brought in and look after him, just happened to have witnesses to him killing some one, just happened to over hear those witnesses talking to each other, and then realising they knew what he had done so did a runner. Thus leaving him once again alone, removed from his home and family escaping for his life
I could go on giving examples but I won’t because right now I want us to go back to Esther. We all know the story how she goes on to save the Jews. How she speaks those famous words “if I perish I perish”. You see her journey started way before she uttered those words. Way before her heart was so touched at the plight of her people. She was a Jew. She was orphaned at a young age and brought up by a cousin. Mordecai was a wise man, a committed Jew, he was not one to bail out at his responsibility. For Esther to have been taken in by a cousin it means her Aunts/ Uncles had all passed over their responsibility of taking her in. When the commissioner turned up at Esther’s village how must she have felt being removed from her only family and taken to be the Kings concubine? She is effectively going to the King who is not Jewish, and be his property/ sex toy. No wonder the idea pleased the king of going out get all the beautiful women brought in. Now it wasn’t like she had a choice here, in fact she is warned by Mordecai to keep her background a secrete. But there is two people being positioned in this story. Obviously Esther. But also Mordecai. He just happens to go to the gate at the same time two of the Kings officers are planning to kill the King. Now because he has kept in contact with Esther all this time (not allowed by the way), he gets the message to her and they save the king. Now Mordecai is positioned just right. He upsets Haman not bowing down and “respecting him” and so the story unfolds. If God was a chest player everything is being set ready for the next moves so far ahead. The people are positioned. The hearts, the training, the strength of character are all there. The things they learnt years ago is now being put into action. The very obstacle in their way, in their path, becomes the very thing to clear the obstacle. The hang man’s gallows becomes the very one used to hang Haman on! You see an obstacle can be just that if we let it. We get upset, frustrated, feel like there is nothing we can do about it, enraged, well that’s the hand the cards have dealt me. Yet an obstacle can be used as the battering ram to take you through to where you are meant to be. It can be the catalyst to spring you forward. The lessons we learn on life’s journey should never be waisted.
A BIG part of our journey in life is preparation. When you look at a recipe it often tells you the preparation time involved as well as the time it takes to cook. You know what to expect, how much time to give yourself, what ingredients you need, what type of equipment you will need, its all there in the instructions. You can prepare and get ready. But life is not a cooking recipe. We don’t know the preparation time. We don’t know the ingredients required or the equipment/ training needed. We could be like Joseph in a slow cooker.
Esther’s preparation being orphaned, growing up with Mordecai, learning and respecting her Jewish roots, learning about honour and responsibility from Mordecai, preparing for the king – 12 months of beauty treatments, listening to advice from others, she listened to Mordecai not to reveal her nationality, she listened to the eunuch regarding what to take to the king, she is made queen, she stays true to her nationality, to being a Jew and she never loses contact with Mordecai. Her preparation took years. But then she is ready. She is in the right place at the right time and does the right thing. The obstacle – the king hasn’t called for me for some time, the risk of death for approaching the king when he has not requested it becomes the obstacle yet it is this obstacle she uses to clear the path. The king is so pleased to see her that he goes on to offer her up to half his kingdom in front of people.
CH 5:1-8; CH 7:3-10
The obstacle became the way.
Ryan Holiday wrote the book the obstacle is the way. He is a stoic philosopher but he explores some key people and their issues/ obstacles and how they over came. Some US presidents, generals, athletes etc. It’s not an easy read but it is well worth it. I have just finished it for the second time.
The cross, a huge obstacle but it became the way!