If I had to pinpoint the times in my personal history where I made the greatest leaps and bounds in my faith, I would see that they were often connected to my biggest spiritual "a-ha" moments. The realization of the truth of Romans 8:35-39, for example, brought me to a new level as I was dealing with a painful relationship. Understanding the commission of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 redefined my purpose in life, not only as a campus minister to college students, but as a parent. Little by little, God has used His Word to shape and build into me a strong foundation of truth that has directed my choices, decisions, and actions.
In Esther's story this week, we find her installed as the queen of Persia, a position that may have its perks but also its perils. Evidently, being the queen did not guarantee the king's favor, for when she was asked by her uncle Mordecai to speak up on behalf of the Jewish people to save them from their imminent annihilation, Esther instantly thought of her possible demise. Not a marriage made in heaven, to be sure.
And yet, when challenged by her uncle, Esther also knew what she needed to do. Through the years of being brought up under Mordecai's faithful teaching and care, she also had built up a strong foundation of faith that helped her to make the hard decisions of life. Even though she knew that approaching her husband uninvited could result in her death, she was willing to do it.
For the past few months, I had been struggling a lot with our decision to adopt Anah. It was definitely not what I had signed up for. I berated myself for letting one cute little photograph change the course of our family's destiny. Grief, anger, and bitterness poisoned my heart. By God's grace, He provided friends who were willing to wade into these waters with me to lift me up, love me, and minister to the honest questions of my soul.
As I had shared last week, God had to help me to grieve my losses, but I also knew that I needed to move forward. I could not stay where I was and be any good to anybody. Like Esther, I felt like God was waking me from my self-centered stupor and asking me, "What are you going to for such a time as this?" I cannot turn back. I can only move forward, even if that future is uncertain and at times, depressing.
All that I had learned about God in the past: His faithfulness, His goodness, His unconditional love, His wisdom---all these truths needed to inform the next steps I needed to make. It was tempting to think that God was punishing me for making what appears to be a foolish choice. But that flew in the face of all that I knew about Him. He is not that kind of God, sitting up in heaven laughing at me for falling for His bait of a cute little girl in a photograph.
Other things that I had learned: His heart was for the orphans, His priority in making disciples, His desire to mold me into Christlikeness---all these truths also came flooding back into my consciousness. The reminder that this world is not my home, my life is not my own, and that there will be hardship and suffering as long as I live here also floated to the surface. His desire to use me to further His kingdom, to do good works, and His call to love my neighbor came into the spotlight of my awareness.
As all these truths long stored away in the recesses of my heart came back out, I knew that even if I didn't like it, where I am today is not by mistake. Like Esther, I am realizing that perhaps all along, He has been preparing me "for such a time as this. Like her, I have a choice: to step up into that place or to reject the opportunity.
Honestly, I would much rather not have to take care of a mentally delayed child for the rest of my life. But the fact is, God has put me here for a reason. I don't know why. I don't see the big picture yet. And there is no guarantee or promise that I will ever know in this lifetime.
The future is uncertain. But if I continue to bank on the things that are firm and sure, I will be able to consistently (not perfectly) make the best choices when they come up. And in order to do that, I will need to keep rehearsing His truth in my mind over and over.
“So let me challenge you to speak out your faith. Affirm what you believe in the deepest part of your soul. Write a statement you can read aloud if it helps, or find a creed to give you words to articulate the truth on which your life is founded. Take the time to consider exactly what it is you believe and give voice to it every day. Then when someone comes to you with a question about your faith, when you are forced to say what you believe, you will be prepared because you have hidden the truth in your heart.”--Sarah Clarkson
And so here is mine for today:
He is still God.
He is still good.
He has good works planned for me.
He is the God of hope.
He is creating me in the image of Christ.
He is preparing me for something better.
This world is not my home.
He has a purpose for what I am going through.
He loves me unconditionally and will never leave or forsake me.
He is sovereign.
As I hang on to these truths, I pray that like Esther, I will be able to play my role in His magnificent story. And as I rehearse my lines now, I trust He will help me live them out when the spotlight shines on me.
Whether you are in a difficult situation or not, what truths about God, about yourself, about this world, about life, do you need to rehearse in your mind today?
What difference can these truths make in how you live this moment?