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The hard soil of life

Have you ever grown weary in all the 'preparation' phase of something you are undertaking? I know I have lots and lots of steps to getting a wood project from start to finish and sometimes I just want to get to the final step so I can just stand back and admire the work. Imagine being a young woman, orphaned as a young child, taken in by your cousin to be reared after your parents' death. You find yourself living in a strange land as a foreigner to the region, your family has been totally taken from you, and now you find yourself living in a "single parent" home, but not really your parent. Not the life every young girl dreams of, huh? Then one day, a decree requires you to leave the comfort of the only "home" you really ever knew. Taken from your place of 'family' comfort, you are ushered into a great harem of others being prepared for the pleasure of the king of the land - not exactly the dream job. Months of day after day preparation will be required, but in the end, your very life will totally rotate around the king's command. This is where Esther is as she considers her future. Esther finds herself alone, at the mercy of the head of the king's harem, and totally uncertain of her future. We may not like the long preparation phase of our life right now, but imagine what God may have in store for you as the preparation draws to a close!

When it was Esther's turn to go to the king (Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his daughter), she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king's eunuch in charge of the harem, had recommended. Esther, just as she was, won the admiration of everyone who saw her. (Esther 2:15 MSG)

Hegai, the one the king had placed in charge of "readying" his harem, sees something of supreme "worth" in Esther - something catches his eye, captures his attention, and creates an excitement within because of the potential he sees in Esther. He spends one entire year preparing her for the moment of her introduction - the moment of her unveiling. Six months of myrrh, followed by six months of perfumes and cosmetics. The thing that caught my eye was the preparation with myrrh - for six months! Have you ever seen myrrh? It comes from a tree that is thorny and grows in the dry, stony soil of the Middle East. The first part of her preparation is taken from a tree of thorns! Do you know how myrrh is formed? From the tree being pierced! As the penetration of the bark occurs, the sapwood is allowed to "bleed". The thing which emerges is what we have come to know as myrrh - the very "life-blood" of the tree. In Eastern medicine, myrrh is considered a "blood-moving" treatment for many. It is often used to heal the conditions of what is referred to as "stagnancy" in the blood. In our Western medicine, we find myrrh in simple things like toothpaste, mouthwash, and some balms for healing our many "boo-boos" we acquire in life. It has an "analgesic" effect - helping to deal with the pain, while speeding the healing.

Esther is treated with myrrh for six months. She has a 'pain' all her own that may have been recognized by Hegai as he begins this preparation work in her life. She has been through her own places of "hard, rocky soil" - losing her parents, being raised in a single-parent home, taken into captivity in a foreign land, and now she is being prepared for some purpose she just does not fully realize. Imagine the condition of her heart, mind, and emotions. She is but a teenager - alone, frightened, taken into the harem of a foreign king, and outside of the normal customs of her upbringing. Another round of "hard soil"! Yet, it was from the "richness" of this hard soil in her life that she comes to be anointed for service! We often wonder about the course God allows in getting us to the place where he wants us, don't we? It may seem like a whole lot of "hard, rocky soil", right? Yet, in the midst of the rocks grows a tree (the cross)! Complete with thorns of its own (Christ's crown). From the life-blood of this tree, we are anointed! It is this anointing, repeated over and over again, that totally prepares us for service to the king!

It is never an easy process to be in the place of "preparation", but when the unveiling comes, what a glorious site to behold! From the thorns and hard soil richness has come - from the anointing something beautiful is produced within us. The life-blood of the tree becomes the very thing which heals and rejuvenates us! A thing of pleasure just for God's enjoyment! We don't like the 'hard places' of our lives, but it is in the hard place where God begins the anointing preparation. Maybe we are feeling like our lives are anointed with myrrh right now - take heart - the life-blood of Christ is just beginning to flow through you like it never has before! Just sayin!

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