Before a girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. And this is how she would go to the king: anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. Esther 2: 12-13
How anxious Esther must have been the days prior to her night with the king. She was young. And a virgin. Was her connection with God deep enough to give her some measure of peace before an intimate encounter with a stranger? Did God reveal to her somehow that everything would be all right? Or was he silent, beginning to cultivate in her a faith that would survive the challenging times? Esther did not have the Holy Spirit inside to guide her and God spoke so seldom in the lives of ordinary people. Her strength was in the God-stories of her ancestors.
If the night with the king turned out to be traumatic, would that erode her faith? Would she consider God to be faithful if the night was anything but idyllic? Not if she knew the stories of the children of Israel, the ones to whom God entrusted the blessings of leadership but also the burdens of fallen mankind.
Esther’s days were uncertain, mixed with the hues of sorrow and joy. She learned early that life was all about knowing God, bearing His likeness, and taking part in the redemption narrative. This young orphan girl played a pivotal role in the salvation of the Jewish people. Her obedience, starting with the risk of what might happen with a godless king, paved the way for the difficult lessons of faith that lay ahead of her.
Esther teaches me today about risk. God has called me to acts of faith; investing in relationships that appear to yield no return, leading a ministry when I doubted my gifts of leadership, being vulnerable and sharing my story with others when it could reflect badly on me. The risks are numerous.
Risk presents me with the dilemma of how to cope. Will I play it safe by closing the door to my heart so that I can sustain polarized outcomes? Or will I invest my heart, trusting God with outcomes of celebration and/or disillusionment? I am fully alive if I believe that God is strong enough to carry me through both.
I admit my faith is tenuous, Jesus. My words sound so strong today. Tomorrow, my appetite for risk might be minimal. Let me receive what I cannot generate on my own ~ grace and faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.