Friday, July 31, 2009

Hiding in the Harem

Catchy title, right? (I borrowed the phrase from Pastor Steve. He’s a clever guy.)

The past few Sundays, we have been studying Esther’s story. One week, Pastor Steve talked about how Esther had no idea what was happening outside of the palace. When Mordecai was mourning outside of Esther’s window, she had to send a messenger to find out why he was so upset. Can you imagine how her stomach must have dropped when she discovered an edict had been issued to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom? She had no idea this was going on. She was safe in the King’s house. Granted, she hadn’t seen him for over a month. But she was there, safe in a place of plenty, while her people were living with this terrible and impending crisis.

It made me think of a passage in Amos: “Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come!... You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end." (Amos 6:1, 4-7)

I’ve been pondering about Amos’ message and Mordecai’s mourning. Am I in touch with the crises outside the palace? Am I grieving over the ruin of Joseph? Or am I hiding in the harem? When was the last time I truly took a petition in front of the king and risked everything to stand up for something I believed was worth fighting for?

What gets me about Esther’s story in particular is that her life was in danger and she was completely unaware. And probably just because of the normal demands of her schedule. I’m infamously busy. I wonder if the blur that is my life is blinding me from something much more important. It’s a good reminder to heed the ‘Mordecai’s in my life, and to remember to venture both out of the palace, and into the presence of the King.

If I lose my relevance because I’m blinded by my place of blessing, if I stop grieving over the ruin of Joseph, if I don't find ways to share the hope I've found...God just might send some "exile" my way to wake me up. And he would be completely justified in doing so. Does that make sense?

What inspires me about Esther: Ok, so she needed a wake up call. But once she knew about the problem, she did something about it. She wasn't fearless. She was nervous. But she risked everything. And she found favor with the King and saved her people from destruction. May I have the gumption to do the same.

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