Friday, October 30, 2015

Your Esther 4:14 Moment

"For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time,then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: 
who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14
(KJV)

Esther was an ordinary girl chosen by God for an extraordinary purpose.
She didn't set out for greatness.
She didn't consider herself as being anything other than everyday typical.
She was content to live an average life.

God had other plans.

As I look at the story of her life, I am amazed at the details,
and I am enthralled as I trace God's hand.

It is like connecting the dots.
Remember doing that as a child?

Growing up, we didn't have a lot of money,
but Mom and Dad made sure I had plenty to do.
One of my favorite pastimes was doing the connect-the-dot activities in my coloring books.

I was always so anxious to find out what the object would be, once all of the dots were connected.
Then, it was fun to go back and color it in after it was done.

Life is a lot like a connect-the-dot that is created as we go...step-by-step.

We take step one, as God allows it to unfold.
After we take the first step, He opens up step number two.
Once we take the second step, He permits step number three to appear.

He never shines a flashlight far enough ahead to reveal multiple steps in front of us.
How often we wish He did!
So many times, throughout life, I have longed for God to lay out a plan before me
that would include the next several years.

While life is happening, it seldom makes sense.
But, once it occurs, and we look back in retrospect, we can see why step number one
had to happen before step number two, step number two had to take place before step number three, etc.

I find it intriguing to connect the dots that comprise the completed picture of Esther's life.
It never ceases to amaze me how God deliberately ordered her steps from the very beginning,
strategically placing her where she would be most adequately enabled and available to make the most powerful and effective difference, when it mattered the most.

He looked ahead and saw the impending annihilation of His people.
He prepared a heart.
A heart that was courageous, in spite of fear.
A heart that was strong, in spite of jeopardy.
A heart that regarded the lives of her people more than her own comfort.
A heart that was willing, in spite of personal sacrifice.

We see Esther as she takes the daring step to come before her king husband's throne, uninvited.
Brave.
Selfless.
Valiant.
Admirable.
Resolute.

What we may have failed to see are the many steps that led up to her step before the throne...
the dots, if you will, that had been connected beforehand that led up to that moment.

Every happening, every circumstance, every trial, heartbreak, and hardship of Esther's life
had led her to what Mordecai referred to as "such a time as this".

Nothing that happened to her heretofore was by accident.
Losing her parents and being left an orphan at a young age,
taught her the preciousness and value of human life,
and how it feels to be plunged into the painful, devastating throes of grief.
Being uprooted from life as she knew it to be relocated in the home of her cousin, Mordecai,
who spent his days in the king's court,
instilled in her the ability to accept change that was against her will and beyond her control.
Hearing Mordecai's stories of palace happenings at the end of a long day,
prepared her for what living life as a royal would be like.

What about her failures?
Surely she had them.
She was human.
Could there have been moments of doubt, questioning her lot as an orphan?
We see her as this stellar hero of the faith,
but what about those times she may have slipped, picked herself back up by the sandal straps,
and pressed on, regardless....before the moment of her Bible-worthy triumph?
We remember Esther because of her strength.
Could there have been a lifetime of weakness she had to overcome to attain that strength?

The everyday, seemingly mundane events, along with the happenings of larger consequence,
were all working together to prepare Esther for the fulfillment of her life's purpose.

And, so it goes with you, my friend...and me.
We are like clay in the hands of a Potter Who has a completed product in view
as He spins the wheel.
Some turns around the wheel are sharp-cutting and piercing,
but the pain prepares us for our life's calling in ways unseen at the time.

I want to take a stroll with you down memory lane, if you will.
Care to join me?
Some spots are not going to be easy to revisit, but we'll go together.
Here, take my hand.

Let's go back to those moments you thought you would never make it through.
The dark places.
The lonely nights.
The broken-heartedness.
The big, black, ugly secret...
you know...that one...the one you keep hidden from the view of the ones who know you now. 
The glaring failures.
The not-so-glaring ones.
The times you doubted so much you wondered where God was...
or if He even exists at all...
and if He does exist, how He could love you and still allow that to happen to you.
The day you cried so hard you could cry no more, and no one even noticed the tracks of your tears...
or cared enough to mention your red face or swollen eyes.
That time you were passed over and made to feel invisible for the hundredth time.
That moment you wanted to scream in self defense,
but the agony smothered your anguished voice.
The night you cried yourself to sleep because the guilt over what you did that day was overwhelming.
The aftermath of the afternoon you walked away from the freshly-dug grave,
the smell of funeral flowers, and the remains of one you held more dear to you than life itself.
That time you were rejected, after it taking weeks to muster the courage to put yourself out there like that.
The day you were told you were not good enough...and never would amount to anything.
That night you made a choice you will never stop regretting.

Pain.
Heartache.
Disappointment.
Bad choices.
Regret.
Grief.
Failure stacked on failure.
Hurt.
Rebelliousness.
Wrong turns.

Haven't we all been there?
Who among us can say we have never sinned?
Or fallen?
Or had life crush the very air out of us?
Whose closet among us hides no skeletons?
Which one of us harbors no regret?

A common thread is woven throughout and among us all.
Broken humanity.
Flawed.
Created by a loving Potter Who knows He will have to allow us to reach a place of brokenness,
in order to make us over again....and Who goes on loving us anyway.
(Jeremiah 18:1-6)

God has seen every wrong turn.
Every moment we walked away from Him.
Every act of rebellion.
Every mess-up...both unintentional and those on purpose.

He has watched.
And though we have all broken His heart, He lingers.
He waits until we reach our breaking points...of brokenness,
and we do an about face, as the realization dawns upon us that we have reached the end of the road,
and we can run no farther.
So, we turn around, and we see the Potter's house,
and we find Him waiting still.
Longing in His eyes.
Welcome in His smile.
Genuine warmth in His embrace.

And, He lets us know we are worth more to Him than His Own life.
And, He points our eyes to the scene behind Him...just over His shoulder.
And, it is a cross.


Blood-stained.
Splintered and jagged.
Where He took our sin...and our hurt...and our disappointments
and opened His arms wide and said, "These reproaches are Mine."

Everything that has happened in your past has led you to this place, my friend.
Where you are right now...reading these words.
Nothing has been happenstance...or coincidence.

And, now you step forward to your own Esther 4:14 moment,
checkered past and all.
You are equipped, because you've been there.
You've lived the sting.
You've breathed the remorse.
You've swallowed the hurt.
You've buried the beloved.

God was there...through it all....not always preferring it, but allowing it, just the same.


If video doesn't load, click here.

He knows all about it, my friend.
He knows, and He has chosen you, just the same.
And He has worked it all...every bit of it...the good, the bad, the shameful,
into a vessel, fit for His use, adequately-prepared, shiny and new.
And you are His Esther!
And this is your time!
And now is the moment!
For you to shine.

Whether you are a man, woman, boy, or girl, 
God has placed you where you are in His Kingdom...
"for such a time as this."
This, my friend, is YOUR Esther 4:14 moment.

God is raising up an army of Esthers who will not bow, who will not bend, who will not burn.
Who will toss complacency aside.
Who will shake off the temptation to bury their heads.
Who will walk forward, out of the ashes of apathy and excuses,
 and take that giant leap of faith God is seeking.
Who will take personal responsibility.
Who will say, as Esther said two verses later, 
"If I perish, I perish."
Esther 4:16

Embrace your past, checkered parts and all,
and realize that without it, you would not be the person you are today.
Trace God's hand.
Connect the dots...of your life's picture, and find the beauty there.
Instead of focusing on and obsessing over the ugly dots, or gloating over the dots that conjure pride,
look at the whole, and realize that, to God, you are a work of art.
His masterpiece.
A beautiful vessel, fitted and ready for Him to fully use.

Shake off the guilt and remorse.
Jesus allowed your sins...and mine....to be nailed to His cross...
to never be brought up against us again.
Hallelujah!!!!!!!!
Praise You, Jesus!
We are forgiven!
Pardoned from death row.
In the nick of time.

Let go of your past.
It already happened.
At the end of the day. it has all worked together for good to serve a glorious purpose.
Now, you are ready and fully-equipped.

"If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, 
sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work."
2 Timothy 2:21

That's you, dear friend.
This is where you are.
The Master needs you.
Time's a wastin'.
Your people are in trouble.
Your nation stands at the brink of disaster.
Souls are at stake.
Generations to follow cry out for your faithfulness.
There are those in your life, your circle, your realm of influence,
who desperately need to know that you once stood where they now sink.
And you made it through, all glory to God!!

Your testimony is unique...and much-needed to be told.
Your role in this is vital.
No one else can fill your shoes.
You must put them on, wear them...and step forward.
Don't waste another moment looking back.
The past is over.
You have come full circle, and you, by God's amazing grace, are enough.

Embrace your Esther 4:14 moment, 
and now, go do what He is asking you to do!

30 comments:

  1. Wow... This is an anointed piece. How true. This speaks to every soul reading regardless of our chosen path. You're writing is getting better and better. God is directing your heart and hands, sister. Man oh man. I'm encouraged! Thanks so much your ministry and obedience! Truly blessed to have read this, sister. Hope this one goes viral!

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    1. Oh, I am SO humbled by your encouraging words, Floyd! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can't take any credit, because truly it was the dear Lord Who dictated the words. To God be any and all glory. You are such a consistent blessing and support to me, and I trust God will richly and abundantly reward you. May He bless you and your family...I am praying for you, brother. :)

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    1. Thank you, dear, sweet Denise. I hope all is well with you and Eddie. Praying for you and sending you lots of love! :)

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  3. My darling Cheril, to read your words written with your Heart means to close your Blog page with such a light soul, I truly feel so serene after having read every post of yours, I feel a deep inner joy, truly, and I thank you so much for this, yours is really a Gift, bless you !
    Have a most beautiful end of the week
    praying for our Angels living in a better world.
    With dear love and hugs
    Dany

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    1. Oh, dear Dany! Your precious words are just so soothing and encouraging to my soul! God bless you, my sweet friend for always encouraging me and lifting my spirits when you stop by here. I love our visits...both here and at your own sweet blog. Sending you much love across the many miles!!

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  4. Wow. What an amazing, encouraging word. Thank you so much for sharing this, dear friend. I love that our past is exactly that - in the past, gone and forgotten by so part of making us who we are in God. Many, many blessings to you Cheryl for taking the time to put these wonderful thoughts on paper.

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    1. Yes, all glory be to Jesus, our past was nailed to His cross! Isn't that amazing?? And He has turned the ugliest parts into blessings, somehow. Only HE could do this. Thank you so very much for your consistent love, friendship, support, and encouragement. You are a precious friend to me! Sending you much love from the USA!!!

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  5. Your post is beautiful and I love Esther, but I can't help but say that I could look at that picture of your quilt all day long! What a lovely site this is!

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    1. Oh, dear friend! How very kind you are! Let me tell you the story about that quilt. Once my sweet family and I were walking around a flea market, and I happened to look over out of the corner of my eye, and I spotted something colorful on the ground. Oh, my, I am drawn to a quilt like you wouldn't believe...they just cry out for me to come look at closer!!!! So, I walked over to the lady who was selling and asked her if she would sell me the quilt on the ground. She said she would...for $10.00!!!! Yes, TEN dollars! So, I snatched it up as quickly as possible, and I paid her the $10.00, and it has been in my family ever since. I would love to know the history behind it...it was definitely one of those that was made from necessity, utilizing every scrap available. Wouldn't you just love to know who made it, who used it, and who has enjoyed it through the years? I LOVE anything old...especially quilts. Anyhow, I am so happy you enjoyed it, and I do trust you will come back to visit often...come and stare at my quilt anytime you please!!! Much love to you, Michele!

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  6. Hi Cheryl! What an amazingly powerful post for me today! I just loved the paragraph about God raising an army of Esthers. What a visual it gave me. And I just felt like bursting out of my door and running to do what God is calling me to be...His holy child, and His messenger of love!! You are a real motivator!
    I hope not to let God down today, or tomorrow. I'll be thinking about Esther and this post if I ever weaken.
    One of your best my friend,
    Ceil

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    1. Yes, praise God, He is in the process of raising up Esthers!!!! Oh, I do believe that, and it gives me hope! I am SO happy and thankful you were encouraged to step forward into whatever it is God is asking you to do!!! Your dear words are like goads to me, and they give me courage to keep going. Thank you ever so much for stopping by and for always lifting my spirits and passing along such dear encouragement. I so enjoy our visits...both here and at your blog. Sending you big hugs and lots of love, my friend. :)

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  7. What a beautifully written post. We must be willing like Esther to move along the connecting dots. The Lord doesn't want to drag us along, He wants to lead us with willing hearts.
    Thank you for this post!

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    1. Oh, what a precious thought! No, He doesn't want to have to drag us along...we can be so obstinate sometimes, can't we? Especially, when He is asking us to do something hard. I love to think of Esther and her courage and how hard this must have been for her, but to think of her going forward regardless. I think it was Elisabeth Elliot who first said, "Do it afraid." Oh, that is true courage...when we are terrified, but we do it anyway! God bless you dear ladies with a wonderful evening! Please stop back anytime! :)

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  8. I love the story of Esther and you brought out so many wonderful points to ponder. I always wondered about the brokenness of her life and the bravery of trusting God and still go forward. I'm thankful the Bible gives us stories to encourage and I'm grateful for insightful teachers like you to help us along remembering how God is for us! When I was little I always enjoyed connecting the dots and then coloring the picture afterwards. I can still remember the frustration of making a mistake and not liking my picture at the end but coloring it anyway. But today you remind me that I'm a masterpiece regardless of my past mistakes. Thank you, precious friend!

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    1. Yes, dear friend! I am so thankful for the dear stories God's Word includes, and how these were people, just like you and me, who had the same struggles and emotions we have, yet they pressed forward, regardless. We can, too, by His amazing grace! Praise God for you and your precious encouragement to me...you are a dear blessing in my life. Sending you lots of love, and still faithfully praying for dear Amy!! :)

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  9. Great post! Yes, God is sovereign over every single step in our lives! I had forgotten about connect the dots! Good illustration! God Bless! Your neighbor at Good Morning Mondays linkup!

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet visit, Lisa! So very thankful to have you stop by, and may Jesus bless you abundantly! YES, so very thankful God is sovereign! Looking back, it is so encouraging to see His precious hand in all that has happened in our lives. Please come back anytime!! :)

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  10. Appreciate these encouraging words Cheryl. I can certainly reflect back on some moments and see how the dots were connected. Have a great week.

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    1. Yes, dear Wanda! How good it is to see God's hand in our lives and be able to look back and see where He exchanged beauty for our ashes! I am so thankful for your sweet visit and trust God will abundantly bless you, my friend. :)

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  11. Amen!!! Wow!!! Thanks very much Cheryl, this is very encouraging and uplifting. This IS my time, hallelujah!

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    1. Yes, praise God, this is your time, sweet sister!! And you are shining Jesus' light very brightly!!! So thankful to be able to walk this blessed Christian path with you and for your consistent encouragement...both here and at your own dear blog! God bless you abundantly, my friend. ;)

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  12. Cheryl, I love how well thought out and Christ centered your blog posts are; always spurring us on to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts.

    One of the most meaningful and comforting verses in the Bible for me might surprise many, but it is actually Esther 4:16, ..."If I perish, I perish". Many years ago I did Beth Moore's Bible study on the book of Esther. It was through that study that the stronghold of anxiety was lessened; most especially through Esther's words, "If I perish I perish". It caused me to realize that whether the Lord "delivers me on this earth or delivers me into Glory" I will be blessed either way.

    I loved when you said, "We are like clay in the hands of a Potter Who has a completed product in view
    as He spins the wheel." What encouragement and peace that image brings.

    And I loved your connect the dots visual. When my husband attended seminary, one of the assignments was to complete a "life map" to help you to trace even the very first tugs on your heart from the Lord. It is so neat to see how the Lord, like you said, "places one dot in front of the other" to lead us to Him and to move in us to serve Him until He calls us home.

    Cheryl, I always fee so edified when I leave your blog.

    May God richly bless you. :-)

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    1. Dear, precious friend! I am so thankful for your visit...I have missed you here! I am always so uplifted and encouraged by your sweet visits!! I loved the thoughts you shared about Esther 4:16. You know, you are so right. Once the fear factor is removed, there is nothing hindering us, is there? The life map sounds really, really neat...what a wonderful exercise to do to look back and be able to connect those dots like that. Thank you ever so much for your kind words, and I am always edified by YOU, when you stop by. God bless you abundantly, Karen!! :)

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  13. Wow! My dear Cheryl, I could literally just feel the presence and power of the Lord radiating from the words of this post... as you beautifully wove the connect-the-dots concept with Esther's life, and the difficult events in her life that helped shape her to be ready to serve the Lord in such a way that went down in the history books forevermore. I pray that the dear souls that come here and read this will be blessed and encouraged to know that difficult seasons in our life have a greater purpose than what we can see right now... and those tears alone at midnight, may just be what God uses to bring about his eternal purpose in our lives. Thank you dear friend for writing words indeed given to you by the Lord! What a blessing, encouragement, and powerful thing you have written here! Much love to you, and praying that your time in the kingdom "for such a time of this" is on the horizon, I believe it is! Have a blessed and wonderful day!

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    1. Oh, dear friend! I was SO moved by your words....I am in tears, especially as I re-read the last part...oh, you do not know how much you give me hope!!!! I know you are faithfully and earnestly praying for us, and that comforts me more than you could ever know. God help us to be faithful and to step forward, as He leads. I gain so much strength from thinking of Esther...thank God for role models like her to look back to and see the faithfulness of God. I am thinking of you and praying for you, too, dear friend, and so thankful for all God is doing in your life. I can't thank you enough for stopping by and leaving such powerful encouragement behind! You have deeply touched my heart!!

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  14. Oh Cheryl, God has spoken through you - these are powerful words of great comfort and deep healing. Yes, we are all broken, and sometimes shattered into a million pieces. Spiritual Humpty Dumpty - that's often me! But, the Lord knows it all. He knows the secret pain, and He understands. He takes all the threads - each and every one - and weaves His tapestry. You have spoken such truth here, and a message that God wants us to know. When we listen to the enemy's lies, we lose sight of our purpose. And surely, God doesn't make mistakes. He has placed us right where we are - in our particular family, our particular town, our particular age. He planned our days from the very beginning. Truly, we are here for "just a time as this."

    Connecting the dots leads me to remember how faithful God has been in my life. And so, I am putting on my shoes, and stepping into His purposes for me.

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. Dear Sharon!! I cannot thank you enough for your precious, consistent encouragement!! I am thinking of you, dear friend, and praying often for you. I love the thoughts you shared here...and I love that you are putting on your shoes and stepping forward!!! How I thank God for you and for the privilege to run this Christian race with you. May He bless you abundantly, my friend. :)

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  15. Thank you Cheryl for your anointed words of encouragement. Esther was truly a wise woman, who knew when to keep quiet and when to speak up. Her deep faith in God was able to preserve her people. We may think we are small, quiet, and insignificant, but God is able to use us mightily when we are submissive to His voice and to His Will. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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  16. This is one of my favorite stories and verses!

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