Life Perspective

PureEats_12x12Oil_LynnAbbott© 2018 Lynn Abbott

He entered this world with a mind of his own… just a year and a half after his grandfather died and 15 months after his brother was stillborn.

I adored him from the start.  Perhaps, I loved him more because of my loss.

But love that child, I did.  He’s grown now, but I still clearly remember those early years.

Actually, such love caught me off guard.  You see, I’m not a baby person.

But this one was different.  I thought him the most wonderful being in all creation.

I’m told that most of us feel that way about our off-spring.  Somehow, those initially helpless, bawling beings capture our hearts.  And we’d do practically anything for them…

We’d go without just to feed them.  We’d do without to make their dreams come true.

We sacrifice personal time and financial security to encourage them in their pursuits.  We suffer with them, and sometimes even because of them.

PureEats_12x12Oil_LynnAbbottThey transform our lives forever.

We love them…well, just because we do.

And our fortunes become inextricably connected because we are family.

That connection for me became clear during my son’s elementary school years; he encountered a bully.  For whatever reason, the bully had taken a dislike to my much-loved and kindly boy.

Almost immediately, my husband and I spoke with the bullying child’s parents, and all agreed that the two boys should not play together in order to avoid further conflict.

It was an awkward conversation and it produced, at the very least, some interesting neighborhood dynamics. But it was all necessary for our son’s safety and well-being.

Those initially helpless, bawling beings capture our hearts.

Yes, what concerned our son impacted us as well.  That’s what it means to be family.

Yet, when you truly love, you don’t resent the sacrifices.

As I recently pondered our love for our son, I thought of Abba’s love for you and me.

Even in those moments when God seems most absent or unapproachable, He lovingly protects His people.

And of course, we find one such example in the book of Esther.

The nation of Israel had again drifted from God; thus, as God predicted, Persia invaded and took the people captive.

Times were tough if you were a Jew.  Nevertheless, a beautiful young Jewess named Esther advanced in fame and fortune.  Opportunity knocked when King Xerxes’ queen died.

Since there was no royal, Xerxes decided to host a beauty pageant. And Esther’s guardian, Mordecai, seized the chance to secure a better future for his niece.

Esther entered the pageant, and her incredible beauty won the King’s favor.

PureEats_12x12Oil_LynnAbbottThus, in this Biblical Cinderella-like story, a young Jewess married the powerful king of the Persian Empire.  And in some sense, like Cinderella, Esther remained a bit of a mystery.   No one at court knew she was a Jew.

Because he wished to encourage Esther’s success and feared her ethnicity might hold her back, Mordecai withheld that information.  And indeed, in light of Esther’s royal marriage, Esther’s future looked spectacular.

But all was not well in Persia.  Jealousy and pride fueled court intrigue.  Two disgruntled officers plotted to assassinate King Xerxes.

Fortunately, Mordecai overheard the men scheming at the gate, and immediately told Esther.  The young queen, in turn, warned her husband.

An investigation ensued, and the traitors were duly hanged. Mordecai had saved the King’s life, and preserved Esther’s prominent position.

Not surprisingly, Mordecai later turned to Esther in his own hour of need.

The problem was simple.  Because of his Jewish faith, Mordecai had refused to bow to a noble named Haman.

Haman was humiliated and enraged.   And having discovered that Mordecai was a Jew, Haman sought revenge and devised a plan to eliminate the Jews.

In desperation, Mordecai turned to Esther. He asked that she intercede on Israel’s behalf.

When you truly love, you don’t resent the sacrifices.

But there was a problem.  Persian law did not allow Esther audience with the king except by invitation.  To enter her husband’s royal chambers uninvited was to risk the his wrath and certain death.

Her only hope was grace.

If the King extended his gold scepter when she entered, she would be safe.  Yet, although she was his queen, Esther likely questioned the extent of Xerxes’ devotion.

To seek out the king was a huge gamble.

Anticipating Esther’s dilemma, Mordecai thus reminded Esther that she was uniquely placed.

PureEats_12x12Oil_LynnAbbottHe offered perspective: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape…who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).

What concerned Mordecai ultimately impacted Esther as well.  The situation tested Esther’s commitment to God and family.   Would she choose the safety of self-protection or would she live for something bigger than herself?

Esther bravely chose faith and family despite potential personal peril.  And God granted her favor.

When she entered the throne room, the king extended unprecedented grace. He certainly loved Esther; perhaps, he loved her all the more because of his previous loss.  Scripture doesn’t say.

I do know, however, that the remainder of the book outlines the course of Xerxes’ love and loyalty, and of the resulting justice.

It probably was extremely awkward when Esther finally confronted Haman in the presence of the king.  Nevertheless, after much courtly intrigue, the bully Haman was punished and Esther’s people were saved.

Despite the fact that God is never mentioned by name in the book of Esther,  I see many spiritual truths in Esther’s history.  In fact,  Israel can certainly find comfort in the book’s stunning account of God’s providential care.

I certainly do.

In addition,  I see a number of spiritual parallels…

Abba is the most powerful of all sovereigns.  Yet, we are His beloved.  Where others might fear to tread, we find grace.  When enemies threaten or  when circumstances overwhelm, you and I have free access to the throne room.

“Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” ~Esther 4:13-14

I also see in Esther another parallel:  Christ, my intercessor or high priest, fully identifies with me. What concerns you and me impacts Him.  Even though, Christ was and is the Father’s “Beloved Son” with whom the Father is pleased, Christ calls imperfect believers His own.  And no sacrifice is too great to secure our safety.

The enemy bullies and seeks to destroy, but Christ entered the Holy of Holies to secure our lives: Christ, in fact, continues to seek favor, grace and forgiveness on our behalf.

When He took human form, He identified fully with us. Our pain became His.  He suffered with us.  In fact, He suffered because of us.  Because He loves, that’s just the way it is.

For this reason, He not only taught us that we can run to the Father freely to find grace in our time of need (Matthew 7:7; Hebrews 4:16), but He also encouraged us to…

PureEats_12x12Oil_LynnAbbottlive for Him, our God who is greater than all else, (Romans 14:7-8; Revelation 4:11),

and give to one another, our spiritual family (Matthew 7:11).

Or as Philippians 2:4 says, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…”

After all, in Him, we are family.  And that’s just what family does…

Yeah, what impacts you impacts me.  In Christ, our fortunes are connected.

And so, perhaps, when we face personal crisis or success, we find ourselves in that place to help another…or as Mordecai reminded Esther ‘who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?’

It’s all a matter of perspective.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers,” ~Galatians 6:10

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” ~Philippians 1:21