Someone once said, Everyone gets to be a celebrity for at least 15 minutes in his or her lifetime.” I cannot recall who said that, but it sounds reasonable if you take into account limelight occasions like birthdays, baptisms, christenings, bar mitzvahs and weddings.
Nevertheless, what about those whose lives may not include such celebrated events? The only occasion for such people to be the center of attention might be at their funerals—a bit too late for anyone’s self-esteem.
We all yearn to know that our lives have counted for something. Yet the universe is so big, we mortals are so small, and our “threescore and ten years” elapse so quickly. As we approach the end of our allotted days, too many of us look back and feel that we have not really counted for much.
Yet I am utterly convinced that we are more than just specks that burn brightly but briefly, like meteors on our way to eternity. Each of us is of infinite value to our Creator. Each of us is important to Him, if to no one else. He has declared it by the gift of His Son.
We all leave our mark. This world is forever changed in some way for our having been here. Our roles may be principal parts or merely bit parts in the drama of God’s world redemption. We can try out for any role, but if we refuse to accept all but the hero’s role, we can become villains by default. If, however, we accept the role the Great Director assigns us, we can make a significant contribution, and history as affected by our portrayal is truly “His story.”
As many Jewish people are preparing to celebrate Purim at this time of year, they are contemplating the story of Esther. Esther’s secret was that she was Jewish. In fact, her Hebrew name was Hadassah. Yet the young Jewish orphan had been assimilated into Persian society. Even her name, Esther, is derived from the pagan goddess Ishtar. That beautiful young heroine’s willingness to accept a difficult role was used by God to determine the destiny of her own Jewish people and to affect the history of the vast Persian empire.
Esther must have had a winsome disposition as well as great physical beauty. If they had the equivalent of a high school annual in ancient Persia, I imagine that Esther probably would have had a long line of credits under her class picture. Maybe they would have included a title like “Homecoming Queen,” and descriptions like “charming,” “great personality,” or, perhaps even more prophetically, “queenly bearing” or “most likely to marry well.” My imaginings take me a step further, and I wonder: Would they still have said all those nice things about her if they had known that she was one of those Jewish aliens in their land?
But never mind. From the Scripture account we see that they didn’t know for a long time, and by the time they did, Esther was in a highly favored position with the king. She was a person of destiny. Her obedience to that destiny resulted in the preservation of her people and the ennoblement of the throne of Ahasuerus.
Circumstances that were beyond Esther’s control had made her an alien and an orphan. Circumstances beyond her control had brought her into the king’s palace. (Esther 2:8 implies that all the beautiful young women were scouted out and taken into the custody of Hegai, the eunuch keeper of the king’s harem.) Finally, circumstances beyond her control made her queen. Although Esther found favor with the king and accepted what may have been a pleasant role, even that was not her choice. She merely obeyed the royal decree.
Yet once Esther came to the palace as the new queen, a very serious choice confronted her. Informed by her cousin Mordecai of Haman’s plot to annihilate all the Jews of Persia, she could persist in concealing her ethnic background, ignore who she was and continue to enjoy the comforts of royal living—or she could put her life in jeopardy by revealing her true identity and beg the king’s mercy for the lives of her people.
Mordecai challenged Esther to choose the right path with, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther took Mordecai’s words seriously. She made the difficult but proper choice. Under divine protection all the Jews of Persia were spared, and Esther has gone down in Bible history as a woman of courage and destiny.
Well, that was then, and this is now. How does all of that affect us and our roles in life today? Not everyone can be a beauty contest winner like Esther. Not many are as wise as Mordecai, or as magnanimous as King Ahasuerus. Few of us get born into, or even marry into, royalty. (The only rule most of us ever know is the kind that helps us draw a straight line on a piece of paper!)
Though few of us attain to the world’s notion of royalty or nobility, as believers in Yeshua we are nobility by divine decree. We are children of the heavenly King, and, as such, we all can attain nobility in principle and in action. We can choose good instead of evil. We can shun the villain’s role and choose not to be like Haman—a prideful, embittered, vengeful spoiler who rose to position and wealth by destroying others. Rather, we can opt to be like God-fearing Mordecai, whose loyalty saved the king’s life, and like courageous Esther, whose bravery saved her people from destruction.
So what if we never had glowing captions under our high school yearbook pictures? If our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life we have a glorious destiny. Yet even now we have a role to fulfill. We have a part in God’s drama of world redemption.
When we choose to serve Him faithfully, we all are heroes, and we all are important. Though some of our parts may be small—just a bit of yarn in the whole tapestry—if any of us were pulled out it would leave a gap in the picture. The tapestry could even unravel; but it won’t, for as surely as a potter shapes his clay and an artist his painting, God, the Master Weaver, has woven us in, right where we belong, with a lockstitch that no one can undo.
You may think that your role in life is big, or you may think it is small, but now is your moment to act. Your role might be only that you take a moment for pleasant conversation with a stranger who comes to church, or that you teach a child a spiritual truth, or that you vote your conscience on a church board, or give a word of encouragement to a preacher or a missionary just when that person is inwardly wondering if anyone cares. Your moment of destiny might seem that small, but it is important.
Your role in God’s plan might be just a momentary act, or it might stretch on for hours, days, weeks, months or even years. Yet what God has planned will not be complete without your part that you accomplish in your moment of destiny. None of us knows our moment of destiny, but we can know something about it. It will be a time when we stand up for God or speak out for Him or convey something about Him that ultimately will affect the continuum of the universe.
So, where are you right now? Are you in the palace like Esther, or just within the gate like Mordecai? What are you doing or what do you think you can do that may affect all eternity? Only God knows, but you can act as though every moment of your life presented such an opportunity. Who knows whether you have come to God’s kingdom for a moment like this?