We Are Living History
Text: Esther 4:12-16 (NIV)
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?” 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.”
Introduction: There is a fairytale called The Never Ending Story in which a boy finds a book, and begins to read it, and before he knows what has happened, he finds himself inside the story as one of the characters. As we enter the book of Esther today, it almost sounds like a fairy tale, as the plot unravels through the imagery of kings, and harems, and viziers and eunuchs. It is so different from our world today, that we often think of it as a story, created for children. The truth is that this is a story in which real people faced real problems, and through submission and trust in God they engaged the challenges of their time and were used by God to bring about a mighty deliverance.
If someone from that time were to enter into ours, they might feel like the boy in The Never Ending Story. They would think themselves in a fairy tale if they were to come from their city of ancient Susa, and find themselves in a world of horseless chariots which wisk us about at amazing speeds, talking boxes in which you can transmit messages to another person miles away, flying machines that soar in the air like a bird. What a fantastic time we live in. It seems so unreal at times. How strange it would seem to one from an earlier time.
Even so, this is the time we find ourselves in. This is the story in which we must take part. But as we take part, and our character unfolds, what kind of character will we be? How will we affect the outcome of the story, and at the end of our part in this “never ending story” will we like the part we have played when it is read back to us.
As we enter the story of Esther today, we must realize that the story is about us. We have entered the story. Though Esther lived long ago, it is the same story. The only difference is that our part is written farther along in the book. If we engage the story (His-story) with the courage and faith that Esther, His-story will remember us well, and unlike Haman in Esther’s time, the part we play will be a good one. It all depends on how we engage His-tory.
I. We Engage History surrounded by the Challenges of Reality
A. Placed By God
*** It is precisely because of the eternity outside time that everything in time becomes valuable and important and meaningful. Therefore, Christianity ... makes it of urgent importance that everything we do here (whether individually or as a society) should be rightly related to what we eternally are. "Eternal life" is the sole sanction for the values of this life.
-- Dorothy L. Sayers in Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 11.
B. Encased In Time
***Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may for it will not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky, and want, more than all the world, your return.
--- Mary Jean Irion
***The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are.
John Burroughs (1837-1921)
C. Faced With Circumstances
*** Suppose the mole should cry out, "How I could have honored the Creator had I been allowed to fly!" It would be very foolish, for a mole flying would be a most ridiculous object; while a mole fashioning its tunnels and casting up its castles is viewed with admiring wonder by the naturalist, who perceives its remarkable suitability to its sphere. The fish of the sea might say, "How I could display the wisdom of God if I could sing, or mount a tree, like a bird," but a dolphin in a tree would be a very grotesque affair, and there would be no wisdom of God to admire in trouts singing in the groves. But when the fish cuts the wave with agile fin, all who have observed it say how wonderfully it is adapted to its habitat, how exactly its every bone is fitted for its mode of life. Brother, it is just so with you. If you begin to say, "I cannot glorify God where I am, and as I am," I answer, neither could you anywhere if not where you are. Providence, which arranged your surroundings, appointed them so that, all things being considered, you are in the position in which you can best display the wisdom and grace of God.
-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
***Never think you could do something if only you had a different lot and sphere assigned you. What you call hindrances, obstacles, discouragements, are probably God's opportunities.
Horace Bushnell (1802-1876)
II. We Engage History Surrounded by the Choices Of Opportunity
A. Choosing to Run Away
*** One day Linus and Charlie Brown are walking along and chatting with one another. Linus says, "I don't like to face problems head on. I think the best way to solve problems is to avoid them. In fact, this is a distinct philosophy of mine. No problem is so big or so complicated that it can't be run away from!"
--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 16.
B. Choosing to Retire in Silence
*** To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards out of men.
-- Abraham Lincoln, Leadership, Vol. 2, no. 1
C. Choosing to Run the Risk
*** Here's a man sitting on his porch in Kentucky. He's only recently retired from the post office, and he's sitting there when his first Social Security check is delivered. He's very, very discouraged. He thinks to himself, "Is this what life is going to be from now on--sitting on the porch waiting for my check to arrive?"
He decided he wouldn't settle for that, and so he made a list of all of the things he had going for him all the blessings and the capacities, the unique things that were in him. The list was long because he listed everything he could think of and in the list was the fact that he was the only person on earth who knew his mother's recipe for fried chicken. It used eleven different herbs and spices.
So he went to a nearby restaurant and asked if he could cook the chicken, and they said yes. It soon became the most popular item on the menu. So he opened his own restaurant, and then others, and a string of restaurants. Eventually Harland Sanders sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise across all of America.
He finally retired a second time (all this happened, you remember, after he had retired from the postal service), and he continued in the service of the company as a public relations representative for a quarter of a million dollars a year till his death. Now here was a man who did not allow himself to be defeated by discouragement. He took a look at it recognized it was there, but then went on to look at what he had with which to deal with it and used that.
-- Bruce Thielemann, "Dealing with Discouragement," Preaching Today, Tape No. 48.
III. We Engage History Surrounded by the Charge Of Responsibility
A. Responsible for showing Courage in the face History
*** Courage in people is like a tea bag. You never know the strength until they're in hot water.
--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 128.
- The strength of your courage is not tested in the field of leisure, but it is tested when push comes to shove, and you find yourself having to take a stand.
B. Responsible for Showing Confidence in the God of History
***What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they know they must do at the last day. For each of us the time is coming when we shall have nothing but God. Health and wealth and friends and hiding places will be swept away, and we shall have only God. To the man of pseudo faith that is a terrifying thought, but to real faith it is one of the most comforting thoughts the heart can entertain.
A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)
C. Responsible for Shaping the Course of the Current History
*** Every generation is strategic. We are not responsible for the past generation, and we cannot bear full responsibility for the next one; but we do have our generation. God will hold us responsible as to how well we fulfill our responsibilities to this age and take advantage of our opportunities.
-- Billy Graham. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 4.
Conclusion: A writer in our time, Duane Maxey, said Esther was born at a providential time, and in a position of great influence. When her influence was needed for the lord, she did not turn away. She saw that she dare not, indeed could not allow herself to be to little for God.
She had to live up to the role that the Great author of History had written for her. She had to play her part with courage and faith, or she would be remembered in His-story in the same light as wicked Haman.
Like Esther, we have been given a sacred trust. We have a part to play in His-Story. We who lay claim to the Kingdom of God have entered “the never ending story” and how we play our part will be remembered forever. We have been given the opportunity to play our part in the great Kingdom to deliver people from the hand of destruction. We dare not fail. Who knows but that we have come to the kingdom for such a time as this. We are living His-story. At the end of our life, our part of history will be written in stone, as final as the carving on our tombstone; history solidified. We will have done our part. We have only one life to live for the Savior. Make the most of the opportunity you have been given.
 The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.