It just feels like I'm faking it.
Tonight I realized I've misplaced my hope in an experience of Christmas rather than the Christ for whom the celebration is worthy.
Last year we began a new Advent tradition. A Jesse Tree by Ann Voskamp. I knew I wanted to at least make this happen for our kids, but the work of it all. I need to print a duplicate, maybe triplicate, version of the ornaments for the tree. The ones we bring to the hospital for Esther have to be laminated. I just don't have time for it and wondered if I just needed to let it go. Tonight, God showered me with sweet grace.
Esther.Esther was a young girl, taken to be the wife of a king who ruled over the region of Susa. Her uncle learned of a plot by an evil man in the king's court to destroy all of the Jews in the kingdom. He told Esther of the plot...
10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say,
Esther did not perish. She was smart and victorious. The truth was revealed and the evil man received a just consequence for his actions. Esther was brave. She broke the law, faced death. But she did it willingly, her life held in an open hand. The love of her God, not her circumstances, kept that hand securely, peacefully open. "If I perish, I perish."
11 "All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law-to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days."
12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said.
13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, "Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews.
14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai,
16 "Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish."
17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
As Esther has drawn closer to this portion of her therapy, I've thought to ask that you might fast and pray for her. As I read this passage of scripture tonight I was reminded of this thought. Esther asked the people to fast on her behalf, for their behalf. It wasn't just about Esther's life, it was their very own life.
While my little Esther is not enduring a life threatening situation for the sake of a nation, her life is at stake and I wonder, for such a time as this? What is God's purpose in all of this? He is not haphazard or unintentional. He does not make mistakes. And as I pondered these thoughts, I wondered, would God use my little daughter to win hearts for Him?
Only by grace has the life of my daughter been held in an open hand. However, this hand is drawn close to my body. I know she is God's little girl first, and to that I have been yielded. I still want to protect her from it all. I don't want to loose her, her life is too precious. Tonight I felt like God wanted me to extend that hand. Not because He's going to take her, but because her life is to be used for good. As you pray or fast on Esther's behalf, would you pray not just for her life, but that the hearts she has won along this road would be ultimately won for Him?
The thoughts accompanying this passage in our Jesse Tree devotional discussed how close to death Esther's coming to the king, uninvited, left her. Her only hope was that the king would hold out his gold scepture and receive her, even though she had gravely sinned by breaking such a law. The king held out the sceptre. Ann Voskamp writes...
We don't have to hope that that gold sceptre will be held out! It is there, always. Chirstmas is a time to celebrate, but the story doesn't end on December 25th. The anticipation isn't about just one day and then it's all neatly packed up and stored away. It is about a YEARNED for Messiah. Emmanuel, God with us, now and forevermore. I feel much better about my Christmas Decorations.
"But in the fullness of time, our King of Kings coming to Bethlehem, He makes the whole of the universe His court and He invites all men and all women and all children to freely come before His throne of grace and to come boldly, because Christ our King comes with a tender heart to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
So we need not fear that He may not hold out the gold septre and save us.
Because He holds out his hands that ook the iron nails to save us."