Stop and thank God for being present with you today. Ask for God’s guidance as you hear God’s voice through scripture and the writer.
Esther 2:1-18 (NRSV)
After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. Then the king’s servants who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. And let the king appoint commissioners in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in the citadel of Susa under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; let their cosmetic treatments be given them. And let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.
Now there was a Jew in the citadel of Susa whose name was Mordecai son of Jair son of Shimei son of Kish, a Benjaminite. Kish had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with King Jeconiah of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had carried away. Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is Esther, his cousin, for she had neither father nor mother; the girl was fair and beautiful, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter. So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in the citadel of Susa in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. The girl pleased him and won his favor, and he quickly provided her with her cosmetic treatments and her portion of food, and with seven chosen maids from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her maids to the best place in the harem. Esther did not reveal her people or kindred, for Mordecai had charged her not to tell. Every day Mordecai would walk around in front of the court of the harem, to learn how Esther was and how she fared.
The turn came for each girl to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their cosmetic treatment, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics for women. When the girl went in to the king she was given whatever she asked for to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. In the evening she went in; then in the morning she came back to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines; she did not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.
When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was admired by all who saw her. When Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus in his royal palace in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the other women; of all the virgins she won his favor and devotion, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king gave a great banquet to all his officials and ministers—“Esther’s banquet.” He also granted a holiday to the provinces, and gave gifts with royal liberality.
One dark, rainy night when taking my daughter Heather’s friend Elizabeth home, we found ourselves out on a small, winding road with not one street light. Elizabeth started to cry: “We’re lost!” Five-year-old Heather patted her on the back: “It’s okay. We’re on an adventure! Mommy takes us on adventures all the time.”
It’s a condition called “spatial vertigo.” Even when I know where I am, I am not always clear on where I am going, and how to get where I’m going. It is an adventure!
Instead of spatial vertigo, Esther experienced situational vertigo. Even though she had a vague sense of where she was—in the king’s court in the capitol of Persia—she had to be wondering where she was going and why.
In a 5th-century version of The Bachelor, King Ahasuerus chose Esther, from among many young women, to be his queen. She must have wondered, How in the world did a good Jewish girl exiled in Persia end up as the queen? She was on an adventure!
Not all of us experience spatial vertigo, but all of us occasionally find ourselves in situational vertigo. As we try to follow the will of God, our journey may take us here and there, but we don’t always know why. Maybe, like Heather’s friend Elizabeth, we worry. Or, like Heather, we embrace the adventure. And often, like Esther, we’re clueless.
The good news is: It’s okay. We’re on a holy adventure! If Heather trusted her directionally impaired mother, how much more can we trust God, who always knows where we are and where we are going?
Help us, God, in the crazy rush of today’s living to learn the necessity of being still and knowing that you are God. Remind us of your nearness in whatever our situation. Most of all, remind us we can trust that, despite our confusion, you always know where we are and where we are going. Help us to embrace the holy adventure of our journey of faith. Through the grace and mercy of your Son we pray. Amen.
Go with God.