I’m still in school. Not in the 42-year-old eleventh-semester-senior sort of a way, but in a very real way, I’m still in school, and there is a real, brick and mortar building where I go to class. The oddity is that I’m both teacher and student.
Currently I’m teaching an Old Testament Survey class to thirty-some 9th and 10th graders. It’s the 40,000 ft view version – the entire Old Testament in meta narrative fashion in twelve sessions. The class meets for 2 hrs and 15 minutes each week. That’s a long time to talk to 9th and 10th graders and it’s a lot of material to cover. Think of it as driving 80mph for two solid hours. Off road.
Yesterday, we talked at length about Esther. The story of Esther, told in within twitter limits is this: Esther, a Jewish girl, is favored by ungodly king, becomes his wife, and leverages her favor to change history.
We spent a significant amount of time on something that her uncle, Mordecai, said to her when spurring her to action.
“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?”
Part of the conversation revolved around how much of Esther’s life up until that point was God ordained, how much was dumb luck, where had she made good choices and even perhaps where had she doofed it. We’re quick to turn her into a saint, but some would argue she’d already compromised Jewish law by being a part of a bizarre, queen-determining beauty pageant that featured – in place of a talent competition – all of the girls sleeping with the king.
Even as I was guiding the discussion that bounced back and forth between free will, determinism, and the odd spots in the middle, I was searching my own heart.
What were the right calls I’d made? When did I hear God and when did I miss Him? Was I enjoying the benefit of those right decisions or was I paying the price for mistakes – and if I’d made mistakes (if? More like when…), had I altered my own destiny with my failures?
And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?
We began to talk about the fact that even Mordecai doesn’t touch the issue. He doesn’t talk about how she got there. He neglects to talk about the journey, but he does predicate the ‘who knows’ with “If you remain silent at this time…”.
Praying over that this morning, it settled in my heart that the operative portion of all this is not the ‘how did I get here” but the “if I remain silent…”. God is certainly interested in us making right choices but He’s not beyond redeeming our wrong choices and allowing us to make good ones from where we find ourselves.
Is our current position one He led us to or chased us to? Have we turned the right direction at every fork in the road or have we veered the wrong direction a time or two? When I consider our own position, I can see evidence of both, and honestly, sometimes the mistakes haunt me…even the ones I’ve asked for forgiveness for. Not because I don’t feel forgiven, but because I wonder what it means in relation to being useful to God.
None of it matters in His miraculous way of giving individuals opportunity. In the way of the Kingdom, where we’ve been, where we are and how we got here is completely secondary to where we head from here. We’re not defined by what we’ve done but by what we’re choosing right now.
After ten years of nailing it or ten years of blowing it, the call of Mordecai rings true for each of us….perhaps all you’ve done, all you’ve been through, all you’ve gotten right and all you’ve gotten wrong can be brought into alignment with His plan.
Today, if you’d like. He would.
For such a time as this.
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