Esther 4:14 (NIV)
“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 your royal position for such a time as this?”
I have never done this. I am writing a devotional story before it happens. Not only that, but I want to ask you – the readers – for something. This week, I will be a bit selfish if you will allow it. I am not writing for you but rather asking something of you … prayer. For the next couple weeks, I need heavy, constant, cavernous, and Spirit-filled prayer.
As we look to the Lord as leader of our lives, there will come times when our humanity seems to overpower our hearts. God will ask us to do something that we believe is just too difficult. A battle between flesh and spirit will ensue. When this happens, many of us will have a similar response: Anything but that. We will barter and negotiate. We might even ignore His request altogether.
Those times when we utter the “anything but that” plea expose our faith gaps:
I will do anything but risk my marriage.
I will do anything but lose my dreams.
I will do anything but leave my job.
I will do anything but end this relationship.
I will do anything but give away my money.
I will do anything but give up my health.
I will do anything but release my children to You.
I will do anything but travel there.
I will do anything but … that.
It is so simple to convince ourselves that we are all-in with our faith and lives as His servants until He presents us with that thing. It is easy to speak our willingness to lose everything … until everything must be lost in order to experience the ultimate gain. Will we actually sacrifice for the very One who sacrificed everything for us?
These past two years, I have wrestled with God many times. On each occasion, I have chosen God and died to myself. With each instance, a tremendous amount of joy and more responsibility have followed. Luke 12:48 in the NIV says, “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” I cannot explain the Lord’s reasons, but He has entrusted me with much these last two years. I have done my best to obey and follow Him, focusing my eyes on Jesus and basing my decisions on the truths in His Word. In return, more has been asked of me.
With each act of obedience, with each daily death, I am losing this life – the one that is filled with chaos, pain, and fear – and finding life in Him. It is a life filled with abundant joy, peace, and hope. Each flesh death has been worth it; God has made so much good of so much ugly in my life.
So why am I terrified of what He has asked of me next?
It’s that thing. It’s the pinnacle of all my things. After months of wrestling with God over life-size things and prevailing in that God has fulfilled every one of His promises, God has now offered me the opportunity to surrender the ultimate thing and pick up my heaviest cross. It is the one thing I turn back to gaze on longingly even as I desire to drop everything and follow Christ.
God’s character matters to me more today than yesterday. It must. Clinging to His character, I can walk into what I am about to face without fear or anxiety … but will I? So I begin the God-wrestle again, knowing full well that obedience will be worth it. Yet fear still threatens to take hold and attempt to convince me otherwise. Do I trust God with this too? After all I have sacrificed, will He make this good as well? I know the answer in my head. It has been proven in all my past experiences, but my knowledge and discernment have not convinced my heart quite yet.
God has proven His trustworthiness. When the time comes, I need to cling to the whole of His character – that character list. God is forgiving. God is just. God is good. God is steadfast. God is creative. God has integrity.
I don’t know how the pieces will fall into place in the next couple of weeks, but I do know God. This is my Esther moment. “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) Esther’s God-ordained purpose was made evident during a faith gap decision that pitted her very life against the lives of her own people. When she wrestled with God and chose obedience, God saved them all. He was just, good, steadfast, creative, and full of integrity for Esther. He has been for me too.
My thing involves life and death on many levels. My thing involves sacred relationships, trust, and forgiveness. It involves swelling emotions, authenticity, truth, grief, and loss. Eternity hangs in the balance. God is near, waiting in expectation. What will I choose?
What would you choose?
NOTE: "As a Clay Jar" will be taking a month-long break in December. First, thank you to my editors, Amy French and Graham Clark. Second, thank you to all you readers out there! I pray your holidays are wonderful and full of peace and joy. The first week in January, "As a Clay Jar" will be back with a devotion that kicks off 2014 with the annual "Word of the Year!" I look forward to sharing about my year of JOY and introducing you to my word for 2014. God Bless!
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