Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Observations From Esther ~ 2

When we left Esther yesterday, Xeres had just passed a decree that removed Vashti from her position as queen.  Today we pick up in Esther Chapter 2.

Once Xeres rage had subsided he remembered what he had done and why he had done it. We aren't given any indication that he felt regret or remorse, just the fact that once his fury had subsided he remembered her.

I don't know about you, but anything I do in anger never ever seems to go well. If I'm rushing around bustling trying to get fifteen things done before I have to leave, and am scurrying about each of them, it is almost guaranteed that something will break, spill, or be forgotten. Why? Because all of my mental resources are focused on my anger rather than what I am doing.

Recently I had this conversation with my husband and kids at dinner because I realized how much I do this. Again, not proud, just being honest.

The reality is if I am serving my family by the task I am doing (packing lunches, making breakfast, getting in the laundry) but putting things down on the countertop or closing the door with more force than necessary, none of it will be received as love. Unwelcomed, intrusive tasks? Sure. But love through serving? Not a chance.

But that's it. I see Xeres in me in my haste. In my, I need to be right and prove my point and to heck with anything that falls as collateral damage ways.

Truth be told, over the summer I was actually pleased this happened one day. Not because I like looking like a tyrant, but because even in my ornery behavior, I still sat down to pray with my husband and kids before he left for work. Typically my husband will start the praying and I will finish it. Once he squeezed my hand to signal go-time for me, I reluctantly started with repentance (see above-italicized statement) and asked for help to calm down. Now, I know what it says about praying so that peace can come, but in this instance, for the first time in my life, I physically felt it.

Of course, I would love nothing more than to tell you an incident like that has never repeated, but that would be a lie. What I can say is that I think they are happening with less frequency and the Spirit in me is getting louder about when I need to be put back in check.

But back to Esther.

A search is suggested to find a replacement for Vashti, and Xeres agrees. In the quest to find a new queen Esther winds up in the palace under the care of Hegai, the keeper of women. Now if Vashti had the power to influence behavior with her choices, it would seem that Esther had the power to elicit behavior based on her appearance and demeanor. Because of this, she is shown favor and advanced through the ranks. Interestingly, despite her unfamiliar surroundings and posh-like treatment, she seems to remain grounded in who she is and still follows through with the directions given by her cousin which fascinates me.

Most of us, maybe not all, typically adapt what we show of ourselves depending on our surroundings and company. This isn't necessarily a bad thing if you consider your audience. For example, you wouldn't sit down to dinner at a nice restaurant with people you know are all vegans and order veal. It would just be inconsiderate and probably a huge turnoff.

That said, Esther is outside of her comfort zone and not consumed with wanting to fit in by sharing details of her life. Details that probably would give her company the a-ha information that explained her thoughts and actions. (I'm sorry, it might not say it, but there is no way all of these girls are put together and none of them are talking. Call it stereotyping if you wish, but you know it's true.) Granted we know the whole story and why this is key, but to keep quiet, especially in this situation, shows something significant about her level of respect for Mordecai, her character, and her integrity.

Eventually, Esther is selected (aka given the final rose ~ sorry, couldn't resist) because the king was attracted to Esther more than any of the other women....so he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Can you even imagine? She knows that Vashti was removed, likely knows why, and is now being selected to replace her. The thoughts and questions that must have been running through her head!

And then it happens, the fateful incident that Mordecai uncovers and Esther reveals. We don't know why she was in the presence of Xeres to be able to tell him, we just know she does. And for the first time, we see Xeres act with logic and reasoning. Rather than hastily move forward on the report, it is investigated and verified before action is taken.

There are so many things that swirl around in my head regarding the people in this story and their behavior. It certainly makes looking in the mirror a lot more interesting, too. I pray that the questions that follow will help us all see the specks that perhaps we've missed and ask God to help us do better. And maybe through the process have our lights shine a little brighter that leads to a conversation where we don't hold back who we are.

Reflection Questions

1. When have you acted in haste and ended up with permanent consequences? What do you wish you could change about the result and why?

2. When do you hold back the truth about who you are? Why? Be brutally honest with yourself about this one; you might be surprised at what your answer reveals is a lie that you believe.

3. One thing we didn't touch on was the result of Xeres' love for Esther found in verse 18. As a child of God, do you realize that your positive influence can impact more than you realize just by being you? Why or why not? How can you pray for yourself to understand how God sees you and uses you more?


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