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A lifetime or a day

Have you found yourself in a circumstance where just remaining silent was the only choice you could take? It may have been there was so much discussion going on that you didn't agree with, or that you just didn't know how to answer with some semblance of grace and tact, so you remained silent. There are times when silence is definitely the best "tactic" to utilize - yet there are others when remaining silent will just worsen a situation. Learning how to use silence in a positive manner is a skill many of us never fully grasp. In fact, many of us don't like silence. We avoid it at all cost. There are also a group of us who like to express our opinion - invited or not. Either way, what we do with the silence is important - what we do with the spoken word is even more so.

When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: "Don't think that just because you live in the king's house you're the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this." (Esther 4:12-14)

Esther finds herself in such a sticky predicament. Her cousin was Mordecai and he had just learned of the king's decree (issued through Haman, a top leader in his government) to destroy all the Jews in the land simply because he didn't like their customs. The day had been set - all were to be killed - none were to be spared. Up to that point Esther's family line had not become a topic of discussion in the court of the king. She was a Jew, yet we doubt Haman was aware of this as the decree is being issued. If he knew the peril in issuing a decree which would affect the king's "special lady", he might have thought twice about such a severe penalty for not bowing the knee to show him honor!

Her dilemma becomes more apparent as she learns of the decree - to remain silent, or speak up about her heritage - either way carries some form of loss to her and her family. She runs the risk that the king will no longer want her in his courts - not sure how he will take the  news of her being a Jew.  Have you ever been in such a situation? You could speak up, but if you do, you will be "implicated" in the process? You could remain silent, but your silence will affect you just as severely - and possibly even others who will be harmed because of your fear or unwillingness to speak up? Not a great place to find yourself, is it? The choice we make in the moment is often what determines the outcome. One seemingly insignificant decision can make such a huge difference. Silence is indeed a difficult "weapon" to learn to master. I call it a "weapon" because it is indeed a weapon in the hands of one skilled in its use. Silence in the hands of a skilled debater can give the audience just enough time to consider the point being made. Silence in the hands of a vindictive person can give someone just enough rope to hang themselves! Either way, it is a weapon to be used wisely.

Esther learned something in her years of growing up under the care of Mordecai - trust. She learned to trust wise counsel. She may not have possessed the things of other young women in the community, having been orphaned at an early age. She possessed something many others did not - a caring and compassionate counselor (Mordecai). He positions himself each day at the gate of the court of the king and in turn, he is at her gate, as well. He is at the "ready" - just in case she needs him. In seeking counsel, she learns the need for an advocate for the Jewish people - speak up or remain silent - she must decide. In trustful faith, she determines to speak what she knows may be the words which determine her own fate. She cannot remain silent, but she can prepare for the message! She takes three days of fasting and prayer - calling on those who are of like faith to do the same. It is a great thing when we "rally the troops" to storm hell's gates, is it not?

In the preparation of the three days of fasting and prayer, she is counting on the king's heart to be prepared to receive what she will say. In the same three days, her will becomes determined and she develops the boldness she needs. The words of this passage are spoken over and over again in churches across this world: Who knows - - perhaps you have been prepared for such a time as this. I had a pastor once tell me these words in just a slightly different manner. I have held onto them all these years. In closing, I will leave those words for your consideration: Are you willing to prepare a lifetime to be used even one day in the hands of God? Just askin!

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