Anika and I have been reading the Bible story of Esther. I don’t know what it is that’s got me seeing it in a new light – if it’s the combination of thoughts in my head right now, or if it’s stopping to explain and trying to put ideas into words Anika will understand.
Whatever it is, I’m loving Esther right now.
I had never, ever thought about the fact that she was forced to go to the king’s palace.
The Bible says, “…Many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa…”(Esther 2:8). As I read that chapter to Anika, it suddenly hit me what it will have meant for Esther to have been chosen as one of the beautiful virgins brought before the king.
It would mean leaving her family, and never living with them again. She would have to spend the rest of her life living in the palace with the rest of the king’s concubines.
She would never be able to get married and have her own family, her own home, her own life.
And she was Jewish, living according to her people’s laws and customs, so I’m sure spending a night with the king was not an appealing prospect.
But she didn’t have a choice, so she went, and spent her first 12 months in the palace with the kind of attitude that “won the favor” of the people around her.
In our culture, winning a beauty pageant and chosen to become royalty would be seen as desirable and successful, but I doubt Esther will have felt the same when she was chosen to be queen. (I often find myself wishing the Bible included more details on the emotions people experienced in these stories we now read!)
So there she was, living the life of a queen, and God gave her the chance to save her people. She was scared to do it. She was human, she experienced fear, and she did not jump at the chance to be a hero.
But her cousin Mordecai said to her,
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)
So she had her brave and shining moment, and she saved her people. She was amazing.
But Esther was still human. She did not seek out the opportunity for greatness.
She simply lived her life, and did what she needed to do, when opportunities or expectations presented themselves.
That’s also very different from our culture. There is such a pressure to do great things, to build a platform for ourselves, to get noticed, and be great, influential people.
And those things can all be fantastic…if the opportunity presents itself.
How much do we pursue it? How much do we long for it?
And when we long for it, do we do so in a way that doesn’t breed discontentment for all of the simple, small acts of faith done on a daily basis, because we desire something big and more “significant”?
What about Ruth? Her great move was being loving and faithful to her mother-in-law. She left her home and family to go with Naomi, and showed amazing loyalty and kindness. But her big finale? She got married. And had a baby. And then turned out to be in Jesus’ family tree, but she never knew that while she was alive.
She was just living her simple, small life.
I live my simple, small life. I love my husband and our girls, and I look for joy in all the little things.
But I also dream of greatness, even though I know being a wife and mom is important, but sometimes I dream of different things – “bigger” things, that don’t involve quite as much laundry, or cleaning scrambled eggs off the floor.
What is my big, important, noble purpose, besides being a mom? Why am I here? How is God going to do huge, amazing things through me?
What will I do with this life of mine?
Well… I’m doing it. I’m living it every day, and maybe it doesn’t need to be great and glorious. I don’t think it’s wrong to dream about the future, but I do wonder if we put too much pressure on ourselves to want more than what we were meant to want.
Ecclesiastes says we should love our spouse, and work hard. And if we’re faithful in the small things, God will take care of the rest, right?
He makes some to be like Esther, well-known and in a position of power. And He makes some to be like Ruth, living a quiet life with family.
Both women powerfully impacted the world.
One knew it, the other didn’t.
Do I really need to know my purpose, or my impact? It might be revealed later…if at all.
God knows – is that enough for me?
Oh, to find joy in whatever circumstances come my way. To find contentment in the small, simple things, while always being prepared for the moments of courage He brings to me, whatever size they might be.