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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday Woman: Esther

Esther (c450 BC) before her husband King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I?) of Persia denouncing Haman as the enemy who would have her and her people, the Jews, killed. Esther 1-10. From Gustave Dore's illustrated Bible 1866. Wood engraving.

When I was a little girl, my favorite Bible character was Esther.  I loved it when my mom read me the book, The Queen Who Saved Her People.  Esther had long flowing hair, perfect skin, and glamorous jewelry.  I loved to look at the pictures of her decked out in her purple robes and royal crown.  She was both beautiful and courageous.  And the King did exactly what she wanted.

What’s not to like?

Now that I’m a grown woman, I still love the story of Esther.  But I read it through a different lens.

Yes, Esther was beautiful.  Yes, she was courageous.  But she certainly wasn’t perfect.  She didn’t exactly rely on her faith and inner beauty to get ahead in the world.  Instead, she entered a beauty contest.  And she used every worldly advantage – every trick in the book --  to get ahead.  She probably lured the King in with her charm and sex appeal.  (We know that she invested a whole year getting royal beauty treatments to please the King.)  She even hid her true identity and her heritage. 

In our day, Esther would be accused of marrying for power and money.  She certainly didn’t marry for love.  The rest of us would probably be criticizing her for getting plastic surgery and Botox.  What some women do to get ahead.  Doesn’t she care about standing on her own two feet?  Is she going to trade her identity for a man?

Is Esther still a worthy role model?  Should we be reading our young daughters the story of Esther, The Queen Who Saved Her People?

Yes indeed.  We can still learn much from the story of Esther. 

To start, Esther stepped up when it counted.  And she used her position of influence to shape the course of history.  God knew Esther would be at the right place at the right time.  When her people were threatened, she didn’t turn her back.  She didn’t hide her identity and say, “I’ll just ride out my position as queen.”

Instead, Esther puts her throne on the line.  No guts, no glory.  She even puts her life on the line.  And she does so with patience, prayer, and fasting.

Esther’s humanity shows us that God can and will ask us to use our positions of influence – no matter how we got there.  And even if he hasn’t been the focus of our journey, he’s always ready to meet us at the destination.

The question is, like Esther, are we ready?

And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?  Esther 4:14


Heidiopia said...

I love that story, too... so rich in meaning and lessons. Great post!

Deidra said...

What I love about the story of Esther (and Ruth, and Mary Magdelene and others) is that God chose to use a woman, and that God is for women, and that God believes in us all.

Laura said...

For such a time as this...

Esther's story is a challenge to me to take that statement to heart. Thank you for reminding me of this tonight, Susan.

Susan DiMickele said...

Thanks Ladies -- Esther is a challenge to me too. I am so blessed that God chooses to use imperfect yet courageous women!