Friday, August 19, 2011

Calculated Risk

Though it has been several days since we read through Esther in our B90 challenge, I keep finding myself thinking about her life.   Having studied that book thoroughly in college (Ruth, Esther, and Lamentations with Carolyn Baker who also wrote the Beginners Bible Tales of Virtue) and a great devotional in my devotional Bible, it really made me stop and think about what a truly amazing story Esther provides us. 

Perhaps a good label for Esther would be "Calculated Risk".  For Esther to save her people (the Jews) from Haman's plot, she literally risked everything.  Had her plan failed, she would have literally been at risking of losing her life.  She didn't just take a little risk.  By going before King Xerxes without being summoned by him could have literally been a death sentence. 

However, she didn't just take that risk without first preparing for it.  She planned and prayed for direction from God.  She asked her fellow Jews to fast and pray with her.  Though she had to step out in faith and risk everything, she didn't blindly do it.  She prepared her heart and she gathered support around her by asking others to join her in praying.  She also just didn't "run" right straight to her husband the king and tell him everything that was going on and demand that he fix it.  She knew her husband well enough to know that it would backfire.  Esther absolutely had courage.  She is one of the most courageous individuals in the Bible---man or woman.  However, we know from reading "her" book----courage is vital, yet it also requires planning at times.  We can't always just fly by the seat of our pants so to speak.  (Is that just a southern phrase?  I know I get laughed at many times for popping off some of them and half the time I don't know which are "normal" and which are my southern roots!)  I know I am OFTEN guilty of running in full speed ahead and not stopping to WAIT.  Even if what I'm trying to accomplish is God led, I end up letting it be Tracye led and end up falling on my face.  Sometimes it is excitement other times I'm just absolutely impatient and want to see His results NOW instead of waiting on His timing.  Oh boy---I have that problem often!  Good intentions?  Absolutely.  Not waiting for God to work out His details FIRST?  Often.  Result? Ending flat on my face.  OUCH!

We also have such a power waiting just around the corner when we call our fellow believers around us when we are in need.  Yet, sometimes out of pride or even embarrassment we keep it to ourselves.  There is so much power that we are failing to tap into by joining together with other believers by asking them to pray for us about certain situations.  It isn't a sign of weakness or that our faith is too weak when we ask.  It's actually a sign that we are TRULY wanting to be in God's will because we are passionate about wanting His direction and are willing to ask our friends to help us reach that goal. 

We  I can especially learn so much from Esther's willingness to risk everything.  Serving God many times involves risk.  If we want to TRULY serve God and be used in HIS way, it MANY times will take us out of our comfort zones.  His call on our lives may not be a direction that we are used to.  It may require us to step out of our own security zone and step out in faith with uncertain steps.  Yet, how many times do we deny doing what the Holy Spirit is asking of us because we aren't willing to take that risk.  We are willing to serve God until He really asks something of us.  Ouch.  I know I've been guilty many more times than once.

Another remarkable thing about Esther's story is that God had a specific plan for her WELL before she ever had a clue.  Her plan didn't begin the day that she heard Haman's plan to kill Mordecai and annihilate the Jews.  Everything up to that point in her life hadn't been a waste.  EVERY SINGLE step along the way was in someway preparing her for that very moment.  The months of preparation before she was presented to the king the very first time weren't coincidence.  Neither is the learning and growing times in our own lives.  No matter where we are right now, no matter what we are facing, it is important.  God is preparing our hearts in some small or big way to help us be prepared for whatever path we are on.  He had a plan for each of our lives before we were born.  Even the days that we feel like we don't "exist", matter.  When I am feeling like I don't matter or that I'm so insignificant, God knows better.  Each day spent doing the mundane tasks of taking care of repetitive but basic needs of my family that feels like it is just a waste are ANYTHING but important, is all a part of His plan.  What I don't necessarily see at that moment is what He is preparing me for.  My vision is also limited and unable to see exactly what is happening in the hearts and lives of my children and husband.   Though the results of each of our lives may not result in the saving of an entire nation, it absolutely does matter. 

In essence Esther was a nobody.  She was insignificant.  Yet because she was faithful and risked everything to follow what God had put in place many years before, she saved a nation.  She changed history.   She didn't have a clue.  Sometimes we don't have a clue why God has placed us in certain situations or why we are going through some battles.  Sometimes situations feel like they are going to rip us apart and we can't for the life of us figure out why God is asking us to walk along a certain path.  In those times, we just need to hold on the tightest.  He has a plan and it's for our good.  We just have to remain faithful no matter how painful.  One of the last deep conversations I had with my dad was during the weekend we spent with him before they began telling everyone  besides immediate family (being just my siblings and our families at that point) about the severity of his diagnosis.  My daughter and I had crawled up in the bed between him and my stepmother and we were talking about what all of "this" meant.  Many important and very special words were exchanged during those minutes.  One such statement was him telling Adriana that He didn't began to understand why God was asking him to walk down that path and what He was wanting to accomplish.  Yet what he said will forever be seared in my mind.  "Who am I to deny what God wants?  This is what He is asking and this is what I am giving.  We each just have to trust Him in that, no matter the cost."    He had a big ole dose of  Esther's determination and courage. 

I hope I can learn to exhibit those same qualities every time God is asking something of me that I don't understand, that I think is too costly, or when I'm having to wait longer than I want for something I'm needing from Him.  I hope I learn to approach life with an attitude of "calculated risk".  Doing what God asks, but doing it in a spirit of waiting to see how and when He wants me to do it.  Not doing something by operating in my own power or jumping into quickly without waiting to hear ALL of the directions first.  Remaining faithful when I can't see the big picture.  Holding onto hope when I don't feel like I'm accomplishing anything while I'm stuck in a rut of just taking care of my family.   Every single thing matters.  No matter how big or small it feels.  No matter how little or big the sacrifice.  He uses all of it.  I just can't always see it in my limited vision.

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