Updated: Oct 21, 2020
When I was about 13 years old, I won a scholarship from my dancing school. I’m not even sure I knew the scholarship existed so needless to say I was surprised when my name was announced at the end of our annual dance recital. I happened to be running the stage curtain that night, so after accepting the scholarship on stage I returned to my post in the wing of the stage for the finale. As the music started, I furiously pulled the rope to raise the curtain, but no matter what I did, it didn’t seem to be going up – so I pulled even faster. And then I saw it, the curtain was lowering – not raising. I had been pulling the wrong way. Several anxious people approached and helped me reverse course – but I was mortified. I wasn’t sure I could ever face my dance teacher again.
Have you ever been under pressure that seemed like it caused you to make a mistake? Pressure that flustered you to the point of adversely affecting your actions? All I can think of when I think of Esther in this story is how much pressure she must be under.
In case you missed it here’s the gist of what’s going on – it reads a bit like a soap opera. Esther is a Jew, but no one knows she is a Jew. She is married to King Aha. King Aha has a prime minister named, Haman, who all Jews are supposed to bow down to. But Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, refuses to bow down to Haman. So, Haman decides to tell King Aha that all the Jews should be executed. Which brings us to this chapter of Esther when Mordecai is requesting that Esther go to King Aha and plead for her people. But just to make it more complicated – you’re not supposed to go to King Aha unless you are summoned, and Esther hasn’t been summoned. So just going to the King to ask could get her killed.
As followers of Jesus our perspective on the world may be different than others. Christian values of generosity, love and compassion are not always the values that guide the world around us. And so daily we are faced with choices – do we say something, do we do something? And every day we are faced with doubts – what will happen, what will people think?
Esther seems to navigate the unknown by grabbing on to a sense of purpose and acknowledging God by fasting. She does not rush in to act – she methodically prepares and relies on her understanding of God to give her the courage to move forward. Hopefully, most of us do not find ourselves in situations where our ability to act under pressure determines the fate of our people – but likely we do find ourselves feeling pressure to act in situations that are more consequential than pulling a stage curtain in the wrong direction. But we are presented with multiple opportunities a day to act in accordance with your understanding of God.
Here are a few of the opportunities I can think of right now:
I can exercise my right to vote and vote in accordance with my understanding of God
I can wear a mask and practice social distancing with the understanding that all I have a responsibility to care for all of God’s people, not just myself
I can speak up when I witness racial injustice with the understanding that all lives matter to God and because of that black lives matter
These are the types of actions that we can take with the understanding that our faith and relationship with God is meant to be evident in our lives in times such as this.
The best news is that God walks with us through all of this. We are not perfect, we make mistakes. And God still walks with us. This is not about getting it right – it’s about continually trying to do it better. May God bless us with courage and persistence on this journey and the overwhelming sense of God’s enduring love. Amen.