Tag Archives: Queen Esther

That Broken Road “Not Taken”

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THAT BROKEN ROAD “NOT TAKEN”

   Donna and Joey (not their real names) had tried to have baby for five years but were unable. I won’t get into the details but Donna and Joey decided that, rather than undergo fertilization treatments, they would adopt. Within eighteen months, they had adopted siblings—two little boys from Eastern Europe. In the next four years, Donna gave birth to a baby girl and then a boy.

   That was unexpected.

   Donna and Joey’s situation is not that uncommon. It’s uncanny how often couples who cannot have children find themselves expecting after adopting one or more children. There are different theories among some medical professionals as to why this happens and some have no explanations at all. However, here’s what those adopted children have: stable homes with parents who love them. And while Donna and Joey and couples like them might initially never have chosen to take the adoption road if another path had been possible, would they, looking back now, have chosen differently if it meant never having met their precious adopted sons and daughters?

   Doesn’t it seem that perhaps the hand of God might be busy behind the scenes in these difficult circumstances?

   That health scare that put you on the road to a longer, healthier life? That devastating break-up which freed you to meet your true Prince or Princess Charming? That difficult circumstance your errant son or daughter was forced to endure—perhaps reaping what they’d sown—and yet now he or she is a changed person? And while their pain was excruciatingly heartbreaking for you to watch, helpless, from the sidelines, chances are good that neither of you now would wish the trial away. Perhaps that experience even saved a life.

   That difficult, broken road…

   Joseph found himself in that situation. Sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, he eventually ended up in prison, accused of a rape he’d never committed. And yet it was his training ground to learn the Egyptian language, customs and culture—all things handy to know when your destiny is to become the legendary savior of a nation. In the end, Joseph rescued Egypt and the fledging nation of Israel from starvation during the worst drought in history.

   And Esther. Do we think that she, a virtuous Jewish maiden, thought it any honor to be kidnapped and forced into the harem of a Persian king? Gone were her dreams of a marriage to a nice, respectable young Jewish man, raising respectable Jewish children. Instead, at best, she would have children by a man whom she didn’t know and she would watch them be raised according to a pagan faith. And she herself would be confined to the women’s quarters of a palace, never to see her friends and family again.

   There’s a shameful, broken road.

   Nevertheless, Esther, like Joseph, spent her time learning the language, customs and culture of the Persian empire—all in preparation for her coronation as Queen of Persia and, more importantly, as the savior of her people, the Jews, from absolute annihilation.

   Maybe you’re on that road right now. Maybe you’ve run smack into the brick wall of crisis which has forced you down a path you don’t remotely like, don’t want to be on, and would never have chosen. It’s rock-hard, it’s often lonely, and it’s painful beyond description.

   Maybe it’s called “the road not taken” for a reason.

   Perhaps. But still, don’t back up and do not quit; not now. That broken road can lead to a destiny and a destination you just cannot get to any other way—a place that, right now, you only dream of finding.

   Stay the course. And then one day may you say that taking that lonely road “has made all the difference.”

 

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That Moment of Destiny

Esther 2

   THAT MOMENT OF DESTINY.  At least once in our lives, there comes a moment when we have to say something that, once said, will change everything, forever. Moreover, we know that once we say that thing, we can’t unsay it or take it back or get a do-over. We may fight with ourselves over saying it—but we lose. We may try to talk ourselves out of it—but we fail. We may try to delay the inevitable—but we can’t. We may wish that things could stay the same—except we know that they’ll never be the same again.

But we also know one other thing—the only thing worse than things changing forever will be if they don’t.

   I’ll never be able to prove it but I believe Queen Esther felt that way. Do you ever wonder why, after inviting King Xerxes to the very special banquet she’d prepared to set the stage to petition him to save her people and herself, she didn’t say a word that night—except “’Will you come to another banquet tomorrow?’”

   Backstory: King Xerxes, world ruler of Persia, is persuaded to make a rash decree that, on an appointed day eight months from then, anyone who cared to could go on a killing spree to slaughter and obliterate all Jews anywhere in the Persian empire (all 127 different countries of it). The man behind that suggestion to the king was the wicked Haman who hated all Jews everywhere. Little does he know, though, that Queen Esther is Jewish. The problem is that the king doesn’t know it either. And the bigger problem is that, were he to find out, he still wouldn’t be able to cancel the decree because, according to Persian law, once a king made a decree, even he could not revoke it afterward. So—Esther sets out to educate the king as to what this means for her and her people: unequivocal annihilation of the Jewish race. However, in order to plead her case, Esther must approach the king in the throne room uninvited, which is simply not done. Queen or no queen, she could be executed for such presumption should the king not extend to her the scepter of mercy. But she knows that.

   Nevertheless, Esther approaches the king and he extends the scepter and promises to grant her petition, even up to half his kingdom. But does she tell him of the plot against herself and her people? Not quite yet…

   Many believe that Esther held her tongue because Haman was such a powerful political figure, even more powerful than she—which meant that she wasn’t out of danger quite yet. So instead of accusing Haman in the courtroom, she moves the battle to her own turf, to her own private apartments. Fair enough. But having done so, then she still doesn’t tell the king that she, his beloved queen, is about to die. (And don’t think Haman wouldn’t have had her killed.)

   Why doesn’t she?

   I don’t believe Esther was silent because she was afraid of dying; she’d already come to terms with the possibility that her destiny might require her to sacrifice her life when she resolved that “’If I perish, I perish.’” I suspect rather that Esther postponed the conversation simply because she knew that no matter what happened after she told the king her story—whether he believed her or not—things in the kingdom would never be the same again. And Esther wanted just one more night of intimacy, of peace, of normalcy with her husband.

   Have we ever done that? Have we ever avoided that moment of destiny because, no matter how we respond, nothing will ever be the same again?

   That “moment of destiny” is often our greatest test. When faced with the most challenging moment of our lives, what will we say?

   A chaste, unmarried, Jewish virgin is told by the angel Gabriel that God had chosen her to be the mother of the Messiah. Wouldn’t that be every young Jewish maiden’s dream? Maybe. But Mary knows what happens to unmarried pregnant women: outcast, abandoned, even stoned to death—so what will she say? It’s her moment of destiny, and Mary responds, “’Let it be done unto me as you have said.’” Regardless of her answer though, Mary knew nothing could ever be the same again. She would either be the most honored woman of all time—or the most disgraced.

   Abraham was commanded by God to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him on the altar. As he takes his son and goes, Isaac asks him why they weren’t bringing an animal for the sacrifice. That moment—knowing his beloved son was the sacrifice—was the most heart-shattering moment of Abraham’s life and his greatest test; what would he say? “’God will provide the sacrifice.’” Even so, Abraham knew that, regardless of his answer, nothing would ever be the same again. I suspect he might have feared that he would go home either without his son or without his God.

   And Jesus. When faced with his moment of destiny in the Garden of Gethsemane, he asks God to take the cup of crucifixion from him but then says, “’Not my will but your will be done.’” He knew full well what would happen if he submitted to his Father’s plan of salvation—he would die an excruciatingly painful death. And he knew full well what would happen to us if he did not. One way or the other, he knew that nothing would ever be the same again.

   You will have your moment of destiny. What will you say?