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Nehemiah, Esther, and Me

Posted by [email protected] on February 7, 2012 at 12:45 AM

My boys need ample time to slow down and play, to let their imaginations soar, and bond with one another and me, their busy mom.  Like your children, mine love it when I forego the dishes to delight in what they delight in.  My oldest child's heart opens and softens when I linger in his bedroom to listen to his heart and tickle his soft back at bedtime.  My middle-est child dimples deeply when I leave the laundry half-folded to join him on the carpet and bring a play mobile scene to life.  My youngest jumps into the air and runs to put on his knight costume at the mere mention of his book "Saint George and the Dragon".  


But it takes time, doesn't it?  Time that stretches from one moment to another and then into another and onto another.  Moments strung together.  Moments of time.  And I struggle to relinquish my grasp on them.  


I've been thinking lately about the moments in life that God has specifically prepared for me.  And this week, as I read the Bible, I  was struck by the specific and great tasks God had prepared for both Nehemiah and Esther to walk in.  


NEHEMIAH

When Nehemiah's brother Hanani came to him in Susa, Nehemiah asked his Brother how things were in Jerusalem.  You see some of the Jews had returned to Jerusalem after the Israelite's massive exile out of the Promised Land, and Nehemiah was eager for news.  Sadly, he was told, the remnant found their city were lying in ruins; the walls torn down and the gate burned.  Nehemiah grieved deeply at the news.  Nehemiah's heart was so distraught that he immediately "sat down and wept and mourned for days."  He "fasted and prayed before the God of Heaven. Saying, 'I beseech you O Lord, God of Heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandment, let your ears now be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before you now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants."  (Nehemiah 1:4-6)


Now as the Lord had orchestrated, Nehemiah was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, King of Persia.  God granted him favor before the foreign King and received all he needed to return to Jerusalem safely to oversee the rebuilding of Jerusalem's great wall.  It's the story of one man trusting in the Lord to accomplish great things.  It includes opposition from enemies and victory as the Lord binds His people together to work faithfully.  I'm astounded by the vastness of Nehemiah's calling, and the Glory the Lord received as this man faithfully answer his call.


ESTHER

After wrapping up the book of Nehemiah I embarked on an even more familiar story; the story of Queen Esther.  While the book of Esther follows that of Nehemiah, the events actually took place about 30 year prior Nehemiah's journey back to Jerusalem.  Esther was also a Jew, exiled with her family in the Persian empire.  Her parents had died and she had been left in the care of her older cousin Mordecai.  It's an amazing tale of how God, again, prepared the way for His people to be cared for, provided for, and redeemed through a person of His choosing.  Esther became King Xerxes' Queen just in time for her to save her people from a terrible threat; a threat that intended to annihilate God's chosen people throughout all of Persian's 127 provinces.  


God entrusted Esther with a "for such a time as this" moment, just as he had prepared a way and accomplished great things through Nehemiah.  So many parallels as I look at them now, and so many parallels to my own, "For such a time as this" calling.  


CALLING

Just as God's people, the Israelites, needed leading throughout history, my children have been grafted into His beloved Nation, through faith in Jesus Christ... and they need leading too.  As Nehemiah responded to care for the wall and the believers in Jerusalem, and Queen Esther said "yes" to the task before her in Persia, so I make myself available to His call today.  


I am called today to say "yes" to teach and instruct my sons in how to follow the Lord.  I am called to rebuild the ruins of faith in our own home;  habits passed down for generations that are like the ruined walls of Jerusalem, in desperate need of tending.  We will be mocked and some may attempt to thwart our plans, but it is my call to champion them as we build a legacy of faith.


RESPONSE

Like Nehemiah, Esther also prayed and fasted as she sought the Lord's help in the good work that God had prepared for her to walk in.  Queen Esther wrote to Mordecai, "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day.  I and my maids will fast as you do."  (Esther 4:16)


Fasting is a taboo topic, but one that I hope to write more about soon.  Until then, I'll say this... I have come to see fasting as emptying oneself of idols, so that all that remains is the Lord who works powerfully to accomplish His purposes in our lives.  


We have all been called to good works - some public, most private - but all good works, appointed and prepared for us in Christ Jesus. 


In this mothering season of life, most of my good works take place on the humble carpet and the noisy cul-de-sac.  They are sweaty, sweet, and sticky little good works that require my daily YES', my time, and my self-sacrifice! They require prayer and fasting.  They require strong hands and kind words as my faithful building tools.  My good works have an adversary as well, but I rely on the One who prepared them beforehand for me to walk in.  


For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:10)



Looking for encouragement and accountability to be in the word?  Check out goodmorninggirls.org

Categories: Bible Study

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1 Comment

Reply Jennifer
9:04 AM on February 8, 2012 
I sometimes wonder if Esther and Nehemiah knew each other. Just another one of my thoughts that get my curiosity going!

Raising children definitely is a life of self-sacrifice. To be honest, I never really thought about fasting as something that is needed, but you are probably right. I look forward to reading more of your ideas on this topic.