"Keep telling these stories, Patti! Our women need to hear storytelling...they need to hear testimonies! Don't stop doing it!" This is what one woman said to me after I spoke at the Bridgewater New Jersey Ladies Day last Saturday. It was a time to tell God's story of Esther... a time to share of God's faithfulness in Esther's life and in lives of those today... a time to encourage women for "such a time as this".
I have been blessed with a myriad of opportunities to see God's hand at work. So have each of you! We need to keep our eyes open to what God is doing in us, around us, and through us as we walk with Him. Are you sharing how God was and is at work? With your family? With your daughters? With the women of your church family?
Take time to re-read the story of Esther soon. Share it with someone! Look for modern day stories that share similar themes of hope, grace, courage, dependence on God, and mercy.
Last Saturday's day of encourgement took a lot of planning and preparation on the part of the women of the Bridgewater church of Christ under the leadership of Avis Rivers-Yates. There were two others who also spoke last Saturday: Deborah Houston of Rochester, NY and Kimberley Hayes of New York, New York. We all connected with the powerful themes of this story as we encouraged women to look closer at:
- individual responsibility
- the sovereignty of God
- seeing each of our places for "such a time as this"
Notice a few things from the Old Testament book of Esther, chapter 4:
- A PLAN FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE JEWS: "6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king's gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her...
- ESTHER NEEDED TO BE THE ONE TO GO TO THE KING AND BEG FOR MERCY FOR THE JEWS: "...and he told him to urge her to go into the king's presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people."
- ESTHER SAID THAT SHE WOULD BE BREAKING THE LAW WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF DEATH: " 9 Hathach went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 "All the king's officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king."
- A FRIEND / RELATIVE ENCOURAGED (HELPED PUT COURAGE IN) ESTHER: "12 When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 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?"
- ESTHER CHOSE TRUST AND DEPENDENCE ON GOD THROUGH VERY DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES...SHE CHOSE TO WALK BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT...KNOWING THE VOICE OF TRUTH: "15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."
- We had time for deep spiritual thought and reflection (as you can tell from these pictures).
- We met other christians from New Jersey and neighboring states.
- We spent time with those from our home congregations who we had traveled with.
I was so thankful to go with Mary Lea, Noreen, and Sherri. We went up on Friday, ate out, went to the mall, and then "hung out" in our hotel room sharing stories, playing games, giving facials, and thoroughly enjoying each other. Thanks, Sherri, for the pics and driving! You made yourself available "for such a time as this!"