Courage

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06582575e047872eee18769104257724Last week I was invited to speak at APU and at Forest Home. Since I didn’t feel I could pull off two separate talks, I spoke about the book of Esther at both, each with a different take away. In doing so, I feel like I’ve been living with her story for the past month or so and figured I might as well get a blog out of it:)

If you haven’t read it recently, please do. It’s ten chapters and reads through like a short story. We meet young Esther in the middle of her already tragic life. Both her parents have died and she is forced to live in the King’s harem. Eventually she has to risk her life by meeting with the King to save her people.

What fascinates me about Esther is that it is the only book in the Bible that never mentions God. He literally doesn’t “show up” in the story at all.  There are no miracles, no speaking to anyone, no tangible representation period. One writer I read described it as an “unreligious book” since there is no mention of temple, the law, not even a prayer is spoken…

I appreciate this context because I find it is more like the setting we live in.  God doesn’t usually show up in our lives the way we read about in scripture. He doesn’t perform spectacular miracles or speak to people in the way we often wish He would. Just as Esther must have looked at her circumstances and wondered, “God are you there?”  We, too, wonder the same thing.

When we read Esther’s story from our vantage point, it’s crystal clear that God was working behind every circumstance to accomplish His purpose.  We can see His hand moving behind the scenes in the smallest details at each turn. Since Esther wouldn’t have known this in the moment, she had to live by faith. For her, this meant making decisions and taking action without knowing the outcome. I believe we call this courage. 

There’s this moment in Ch 4:16, when Esther decides she is going to put her life on the line. She tells her uncle to have everyone fast for three days on her behalf and then she will go to the King. It occurred to me this week that Esther didn’t wait for the results of the fast, she committed to her plan regardless. She didn’t fast in order to hear what she should do next, but made her choice ahead of time and fasted as a request for success. There’s a big difference.

God doesn’t always expect us to wait for confirmation or signs. Sometimes, we are meant to seize the moment and trust Him to be in the details on the other side. Just as God doesn’t tangibly appear in the book of Esther, she doesn’t say anything about Him, either. It’s only by her action that we see where her trust lies. In the same way, I wonder if our ability or inability to use courage often reveals something about our own faith.  In a way, courage is an outward expression of an inward belief. We either trust Him with our steps or we don’t.

Easier said then done;)

…. What about you? Any thoughts on courage or taking action?

 

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8 responses to “Courage”

  1. Keri Bender says:

    :) i think that Jesus hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but one of love, power and a sound mind. And the only reason any of those things can function in us is because His Spirit dwells in us. But i think it’s a HUGE thing in our Christian culture to “wait on the LORD.” don’t get me wrong- i think there are times that we’re supposed to wait and not make a move until we hear His voice, but if we let that become our cop-out are we really hearing His voice? we need to trust Him- that’s He’s good and kind; if you’re walking with Him, that He’s a good Father who knows your frame and doesn’t expect you to be perfect. sometimes we just need to get some forward motion going, and trust that He’ll guide and correct us. but maybe that’s just me. :)

    • cindyannjohnson says:

      Love it! All of it! Thanks for sharing, Keri! I agree, sometimes we should wait. I just notice a lot of waiting…usually because it’s safer. It was interesting to read that she just went for it and asked God to bless her choice. I think we are made to struggle and fail and God can make something out of all of it! ..thank goodess;)

  2. Alecia says:

    It’s only courage if there’s fear involved, right? I mean, if there’s no risk or you already know how to do the job, it doesn’t really take any courage. So sometimes we have to jump in head first and take the risk. Other times, waiting on the Lord is the most courageous thing we can do–especially when we’re tempted to just rush in and solve the problem. For Esther courage meant action. Waiting involved no risk for her and would have meant death for the Jews. Other Biblical heroes (Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David…) had to “wait courageously.” How and when to act/wait requires spiritual sensitivity and discernment, I think. And yes, we will get it wrong sometimes. And God will graciously weave that into his divine tapestry.

    • cindyannjohnson says:

      Excellent point! You are so right, courage looks like waiting and like action depending on the situation. Genius!! Wish I’d thought of it:)

  3. CR says:

    Love me some Esther! I would be interested to know a little more about WHY you feel like you have been living this story the past month;)

    • cindyannjohnson says:

      :) Just a small coincidence…. Pimping my blog out with 2 tickets took courage…and a lot of “hit send and don’t think” :)

  4. Kierstan Hall says:

    Hi Cindy!
    I just wanted to let you know you did an amazing job. I met you briefly before you spoke, (I’m one of the RAs who works with Greg). He spoke really highly of you and now I know why. I really enjoyed your take on Esther, I’ve never heard it explained in such a way before and it is something I will remember because it is so relevant. I just want to send you some encouragement :) God is with you and when more opportunities present themselves (which I’m sure they will), be confident in your talent. You are an encouragement, Thank you for taking the time to speak words of wisdom to us college students.

    • cindyannjohnson says:

      Wow! Thank you so much Kierstan. Your words mean more than you know and really encouraged me this morning!

      Thanks, again for having me out. I really enjoyed meeting all of you and reflecting on college. It’s such a unique and life shaping time. I’m glad the students have someone like you loving on them!

      Hope to cross paths again soon!
      Cindy

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