Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Portraits of Redemption: Esther

While soaking in the sunshine on the beach recently, my husband Tim created a custom built sand chair just for me.  I sank down into the coolness of the more-wide-than-I-care-to-admit hole, while Tim built up the back of the “chair” to just the precise height for ultimate comfort for my head.  He dug a “cup holder” at the perfect distance off to my right; there was a small hill under my knees and two hollows for my feet.  I couldn’t have been more relaxed!  Yet as I sat there, inevitably some area became uncomfortable over time.  I would arrange it to perfection, and sit back once again – only to repeat the cycle within several minutes.
Discomfort is not a bad thing.  When we get too comfortable, we become unwilling to move.  And the truth is we were born to move.  Move or die.  There is a world of hurting people needing to be rescued.  It’s tempting to get tired, to make excuses.  To claim we deserve our present comfort, yet the truth is, the longer we sit, the more useless and stagnant we become.
As I lay on the beach that day, the story of Esther kept coming to my mind.  Esther’s life is not just a Biblical version of Cinderella.  I see in her a woman who had a choice to make.  A choice to focus on herself – her needs, her wants, or take the option to step out of her newly acquired comfort zone – quite likely putting not only her plush surroundings, but also her very life, in danger.
When the news reached Esther that her people, the Jews, were going to be destroyed, it was decision time.  I see her looking around her beautiful room - the silk gowns, smiling servants, sparkling jewels, golden crowns, delectable food – a far cry from where she had come as a small orphan girl living in a foreign land.
Esther could never forget those days after the death of her parents.  Though she had been taken in by her cousin, there must have been a hole deep within Esther’s heart that begged to belong.  As a woman, her deepest desires most certainly were for love and security, and now she had it.
I shudder to think how different Esther’s story would be, had she lived in our day and age.  A world of humanity looking out for number one!  We desperately pursue comfort and happiness, and who more than Esther deserved happiness?  Yet, she saw beyond her present comfort, she saw deeper than the security she now had.  She longed for something with more substance than momentary pleasure.  She had been redeemed from a life with little meaning, but for what reason?
Esther is a story of redemption not only for the Jewish people, but also for the little orphan girl still living deep within Esther’s heart.  She could have clung to the lies that she was nothing.  She could have claimed her “right” to look out for herself – especially after all she had been through.  She could have believed the voice inside that told her she was useless. 
But Esther was more than that in God’s eyes.  In the lifetime of feeling like a nobody, Esther didn’t know that God was actually bringing her to the precise moment in time where her value would become obvious to the world!
Esther was loved.  She was needed… and wanted!  She couldn’t see the end result from her easy chair, but by keeping her eyes on God, Esther found redemption.

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