A Girl After my Own Heart!

8:49 AMHeather

I love Esther!  Yep, of Biblical fame.  I loved the movie One Night with the King, and I poured over the Beth Moore study of Esther.  Her story captivates me and inspires me--ever since I was a little girl.  Perhaps I've always seen in her the courage and gumption that I wish I had.  It seems that no matter how many times I pour over Esther, I glean fresh insight.

Esther knew a thing or two about favor.  Actually, Esther was wise beyond her years.  She had a wisdom in her approach to others and to life's challenges--something beyond knowledge.  Truly, it's a Godly wisdom.  While the book of Esther never mentions the word "God" even once (amazing Bible trivia!), she is a woman whose every word, action, and response scream of someone whose steeped themselves in prayer.  Someone who's endured life's trials enough to know that when all is crumbling around you, you can stand firm on your faith.  I personally think it's the sort of faith that is grown best through surviving trials--say, perhaps, like a young girl who is orphaned and comes to live with their uncle Mordechai.

If you'll so indulge me, bloggy friends--let me present to you some top lessons we might learn from our dear Esther.

1.  She treated everyone with respect.  As the movie so eloquently portrays, the other women who had been gathered as potential candidates for the role of queen completely overlooked Hegai.  Hegai?  Not familiar with him?  He's the eunuch who oversaw the queen candidates.  The eunuch.  As in servant.  As in someone emasculated.  Humiliated.  On the scale of the lowly and unimportant, he ranks at the very bottom.  He was invisible to other queen candidates.  But, not to Esther.  No, we see in Esther 2:9 that Esther found favor with Hegai the eunuch.  And, if there's a thing or two I've learned about favor in this now 5 months study of it--favor is found because favor is sought.  

Wisdom and humility mean treating ALL people with respect.  It means seeking the favor of ALL--not just the influential or pretty or acceptable in our culture.  No, treating all people with respect means that no one is too lowly for our highest regard.  

Want a great pinterest idea to live this one out?  Pack gallon ziplock bags with basics like soap and toothpaste and other toiletries, maybe some snacks, and how about a pocket Bible?  Keep them in your car and hand these blessing bags out to the homeless you see.

Or, how about looking your cashier in the eye and asking how they are?  Or, the customer service rep who seems to have forgotten the customer?  And service?  How about responding to them with kindness?  Just who do we belong to again?  A litmus test of our faith in Christ is how we show his love to ALL around us.

2.  She valued the counsel of others.  When it came time for that amazing shopping trip to the king's closet, Esther was unlike the other queen candidates who grabbed at the prettiest clothes and jewelry for their time with the king.  Nope, again, we see humility in Esther as she asked Hegai for suggestions on what to wear.  And with this kind of attitude, we are told that Esther "won the favor of everyone who saw her" (Esther 2:15).  

Wisdom and humility values the counsel of others--even those most would disregard.  And favor is found.  All around us, we are surrounded by people with life experiences and insight to offer.  Are we humble enough to seek it?

3.  Her humility took her places.  I just love Esther 2:17--especially as it is played out in the movie.  "Esther won the king's favor and became queen."  Esther was not the queen candidate who had her eyes lifted to the throne she hoped to take over.  Nope, her eyes were level with the people around her.  I picture her ascent to the throne this way.  This was a girl accustomed to bowing her head and closing her eyes in prayer.  This was a girl who was so busy looking around her and connecting with those in her line of vision that the throne was an after thought.  
In God's economy, grace and favor of the highest level comes to the humble, the wise, the seeking, the serving--because "the last shall be first."  With our King, his favor is won by our humility--our regard for the lowly of society, our ability to surrender ourselves to the wise counsel of others, submitting to others, and avoiding the trappings of this world.  Yes, our King's favor is won when we value people more than fame, fortune, or status.

4.  She knew how to respond to a stressful situation.  Talk about pressure!  Esther's uncle lets her know that their entire people group will be killed if she does not do something to intervene.  Yep, the Israelites will be slaughtered--they will cease to exist--unless Esther is able to use the queen status she's attained "for such a time as this."  I'm telling you--that's enough to have me in full freak-out mode, rocking in fetal position in a corner.  But, not Esther.  Nope, first--and this is key--she fasts and prays and asks others to do the same.  Oh, yeah.  Prayer!  As a response to a stressor.  Good idea!  And, then, in 5:8, she enters the king's court and says, "if the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king--come to a banquet I'll prepare." 

Now, I've heard that the way to a man's heart is through this stomach--but wow.  Let's not forget that entering the kind's court without an invitation was grounds for immediate execution in those days--thus the need to pray and fast.  The call for courage to simply set foot in the room.  So, just how does Esther respond to this call to save her people?  "Hey king--wanna come over for dinner?"  

But, such wisdom.  She doesn't blurt out her request or make demands or behave rashly or emotionally.  No, she responds prayerfully, calmly, carefully, and with a plan to move forward.  Oh, that I could do the same.  So convicting!  Just yesterday, I was faced with a customer service problem.  And, let's just say, I didn't respond by calmly asking the person for a bite to eat.  In fact, didn't extend much grace at all.  The very future of my nation does not depend on me--but I sure have acted like it with my little hissy fit about this problem.  Yi yi yi!

It just makes me wonder.  How would my life look different if I approached life's circumstances in the same manner as Esther?  What if instead of diving in and freaking out and making demands--I simply believed God?  Not just believed IN God, but believed God when he says he'll take care of me?  What If I sought him earnestly--and then left the outcome to Him?  What if I proceeded through each day's ups and downs prayerfully and carefully?  Like Esther?

5.  She knew how to wait on God's perfect timing.  Waiting is perhaps the worst and most difficult thing we do in life.  Esther knew how to do it well.  Very well.  Esther patiently follows the plan.  She doesn't run ahead of it or push it along.  But, instead, she serves her banquet...and keeps her mouth shut.  And, she invites the king to a second banquet.  She waits for an opportune time and she is ready when she is asked directly what she might need from the king.  Her humble response? 

if I have found favor with you, o king, and if
it pleases your majesty, grant me my life--and
spare my people.
Esther 7:3

Such restraint!  Because I'd be a bumbling mess, blurting out all the details of the evil plot to kill the Israelites, once and for all.  Such wisdom!  Not accusations against the conniving Haman, who was at this banquet--but humble, firm, clear, concise.  Earnest yet not desperate.  She was waiting on the Lord--she trusted God to work it out--not the king.  You can tell by her tone and her request.  Her hope was not all tied up in what that earthly king might do.  Her hope was fixed on her Heavenly King.

If it pleases the king, and if he regards me with
favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and 
if he is pleased with me, let an order be written
overruling Haman [and his evil plot].
Esther 8:5

So, when the king says, "hey Esther--what's on your mind?  What can I do for you?"  She wisely responds in this way...
(1)  if it pleases YOU
(2) if you regard me with favor
(3) if you think it's the right thing to do
(4)  if you are pleased with me
(5)  THEN overrule this execution order

Amazing.  This Esther shows such submission and surrender and humility and yielding.  Yes, to the king.  But, don't misunderstand.  She was able to respond to HIM that way because she'd already responded to the Lord that way.  

That today, I might yield to my Savior.  Believe Him to be good and loving and kind and for me.  That I might respond to frustration or stress by running to him.  That I might trust Him for the results.  That I might have the wisdom of Esther.  Gotta tell you--when I picture being in heaven with the cloud of witnesses who have gone before and getting to chat with them--Esther is at the top of my list to have a little girl talk.  She knew a thing or two about standing on God's grace--and trusting her very life to it! 

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