Connect the Dots

Last week we took a look at the story of Esther, and I shared six practical tips for facing and walking through defining moments in our lives.  After hearing the message, a friend shared with me how she had been reading the same story just that day and learning a parallel truth that I feel is the perfect follow up to what I shared about last week.  It’s time to take a look at what happens if we decide we’re not up for the challenge of facing difficult moments and simply let the opportunity to do something pass us by. 

Defining moments can crop up anywhere, at any time in our lives, and it would be wonderful if we had time to prepare for each one using the six lessons of: responding from the heart, using your skills, inviting help, visualizing success, praying, and resting in God’s bigger plan.  However, that’s not always the case, and often times we have little time to prepare when something comes our way.  We have to understand that time will not always be on our side, and quickly dealing with fear and grabbing hold of that moment will be of the utmost importance. 

The reason is one of the amazing, yet stark truths of a life lived with God: if He chooses you for a task and you fail to follow through, He will choose someone else, and consequences will be felt.  I for one am thankful that He always accomplishes what He sets out to do, but I’ve come to understand that often involves partnering with people, including me…and you. 

This dynamic partnership between God and people is why obedience to His voice is so critical.  I know the word “obedience” can conjure up some negative feelings, but with God as our Commander In Chief, there is no allegiance to someone who will fail you or who has their own interest in mind.  If you look at the Bible in its entirety, you can’t miss that the well-being of God’s children is always at the center of His heart.  Therefore, listening to His instruction and following through with what He is asking of us is essential for seeing His plans and our dreams unfold.  Although the moments God directs us towards may be difficult at times, if we miss them, they become just that – missed.

In my recap of Esther’s story, we heard that her cousin Mordecai convinced her that even her safety was at risk if she didn’t go before the King asking that the Jewish people be spared.  What I didn’t share was his tactic for convincing Esther, and his bold statement as to what would happen if she didn’t.  Here are his words:

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.  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 4:13-14

I don’t know about you, but I think Mordecai pretty much laid it out there.  “In other words, Esther, if you don’t go before the king and face your defining moment, you won’t be safe either, and God will find someone else to do it, and this very well could be the entire reason you became queen.”  Wow! 

One of the things I love about God’s Word is that it is so relevant for today.  We can expect, because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, that what will happen to us today if we ignore His voice is the same thing that He warned against through the words of Mordecai.  We must also remember that God does not lose sight of His love for us, even if we suffer as a result of our actions.  The ability to choose listening to Him or not is at the core of why His love carries so much power; it’s attached to freewill.  Freewill is the catalyst for any long-lasting, pure, and unconditional relationship.  Without this element it doesn’t advance.  Picture freewill as a flint and choosing to have faith in Christ is the rock struck against it; that action causes the necessary spark to ignite a fire.  My experience shows me that consciously choosing Jesus to be at the center of your life every day is what keeps that fire burning bright.  If this is not done, the consequences that Mordecai spoke of could very well become a reality.  Let’s examine each one.

First, would God really allow our safety to be in jeopardy?  In short, yes, but our perspective needs to be correct on this one.  Living in a world in which death was introduced by Satan in the beginning is the single reason our safety is in jeopardy.  It is inescapable that harm can befall us and no one is guaranteed a life free of pain simply because of a profession of faith in Christ.  What’s important to differentiate is that God has an overwhelming desire to bless and protect.  His nature is that of taking care of his children, exactly like any good parent would. 

But what do loving parents do when a child refuses to listen and decides to head a direction other than what was asked?  Often times they let them go, and it’s at this moment that the protection of parental wisdom that acts as a covering is lifted.  The consequences of this action can be swift and harsh, but they have a way of driving kids back to trusting in their parents.  The effectiveness of God’s protection over us functions the same, and it is relative to the distance we choose to put between us.  This very simple visual may help: we either choose to stand under the umbrella offered to us, or we don’t, and saying “yes” to God’s voice places us squarely underneath.  This is what Mordecai was communicating to Esther when he told her that if she didn’t do the task God had placed before her, she would be stepping directly out from His protection.     

Next, would God bypass us to find someone else to do the job if we don’t?  The answer is “yes” once again.  Mordecai assured Esther that “relief and deliverance for the Jews would arise from another place,” and the implication was that this would take place if she didn’t do it.  He was certain God had a plan to spare his people and would search the land until He found someone willing to execute it.  Mordecai was also persistent in petitioning Esther because he knew she could do it.  It was if he knew the eyes of the Lord had specifically landed on her, preparing to give her strength because of her committed heart (2 Chronicles 16:9).  We know that Esther followed through, but the opposite scenario can be found in Scripture too.  The shift in anointing from Saul to David in 1 Samuel chapters 15 and 16 will give a clear picture of how God doesn’t hesitate to focus His resources towards a willing heart.  I recommend it for some reading on your own. 

Finally, could the whole reason behind some of the things we go through really boil down to one moment?  Mordecai posed this question to Esther, and it must be one we seriously consider ourselves.  The reason I say this is because of the vast number of people that I’ve counseled over the years that express a deep desire to know why they exist.  The defining moments in our life can be an indicator of how God truly sees us and what He wants us to recognize in ourselves.  Placing someone in a situation in which they are forced to make a decision and act, is a way to uncover their potential and reveal what they are capable of.

There are numerous stories in the Bible of such moments, and the story of Esther is a good example.  However, there is one that has really stood out to me as I’ve been reflecting on this topic.  In Luke 23 (v 39-43), as Jesus is nearing the end of his life, he enters an exchange with two thieves being crucified alongside of him.  What strikes me is the only moment we have on record of these men is this one: a few simple sentences spanning perhaps only a minute or two in time.  We know they led a life of crime, but otherwise, their actions weren’t noteworthy, yet we remember them thousands of years later because of this single defining moment – one rejected Christ and the other embraced him.  I’ve used the example of the thief that embraced Jesus dozens of times to prove to people that Christ’s mercy and grace are extended to anyone willing to say yes to him no matter what they’ve done, even moments before their own death.  Could this man’s life have been lived for the sole purpose of revealing this truth to the rest of mankind?  Was his life’s purpose fulfilled in the moment when he turned and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”? (Luke 23:42)

The answers to these questions must be “yes” or they have no relevance in this message.  Our defining moments are essential to constructing the truth of who we are.  They are like the points in a connect-the-dot picture.  Only when they are connected does the image make sense, and if one is missed, the entire piece – or our purpose in this case – is thrown off.  By applying the truths from this message and my last, I pray that you boldly complete the picture in your life by confidently stepping through the moments God lays before you.  And don’t think things are over if you miss one, because He has an uncanny ability to place more dots leading us back on track.