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For such a time as this

After raising sons, I now have granddaughters. And one thing that I have noticed about girls is they love everything associated with princesses. So many little girls today want to be princesses.

Maybe that is why there was such global fascination with the story of Kate Middleton and Prince William and their royal wedding on April 29, televised to an estimated audience of two billion people. There was the bride, a commoner who was chosen by Prince William to become a member of the royal family. It is many little girls’ dream come true, something that seemed to come right out of a storybook.

The Bible tells its own true story of a little girl who grew up not only to become a princess, but also a queen. As her story begins, we are introduced to Xerxes, the king of Persia. He ruled over a vast Persian empire that ranged from India to Ethiopia. He was raised as a royal, the son of Darius the Great and the grandson of Cyrus the Great. He was the father of Artaxerxes, who gave permission to Nehemiah and the Jews to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

History depicts Xerxes as a towering figure, a large man who stood taller than his contemporaries. He is also depicted as intolerant and insensitive. You might say that he was lacking in people skills. He was good at killing people. He was good at subduing kingdoms. But he wasn’t the most personable guy. Maybe that is why Xerxes decided to throw a great feast for his kingdom. Everyone was invited to the palace to eat the finest food of the day and to drink as much as they wanted, courtesy of the king.

As everyone was enjoying this great feast, Xerxes, in a drunken stupor, decided to bring in his beautiful queen, Vashti, to parade in front of his lords. But when Vashti was summoned, she refused to go. He wanted to parade her about as a mere object, a possession, so she wouldn’t comply.

The advisers to the king told him that he couldn’t allow Vashti to rebel against him, because once the other women in the kingdom heard about it, no woman would ever do what her husband told her to do again. They convinced him to get rid of Vashti. Then someone came up with the idea of having a beauty contest throughout the kingdom and the most beautiful woman who won would become the next queen of Persia.

So they combed the kingdom of Persia for a new bride for Xerxes. Think of all the young girls who dreamed of becoming queen, living in the lap of luxury with unparalleled wealth and influence. Jewish historian Josephus says there were as many as 400 women who were involved in this remarkable beauty pageant. They found the most attractive virgins in the kingdom. Then they underwent an extensive makeover for a year, preparing them for the short time they would spend with the king in hopes that he would pick them to be the next queen.

Enter Hadassah, also known as Esther. Because of her beauty, she was immediately identified and chosen to be one of the contestants in this event. She was pulled away from her cousin, Mordecai, and her people and put in the middle of this secular, godless court.

Sometimes I think it is difficult for us to understand how God can work in unexpected places in the lives of unexpected people in unexpected ways, which results in unexpected things. But this is certainly one of those cases.

Ultimately, Esther did become the queen. And if this were a fairy tale, the story would have ended with, “And they lived happily ever after.” But this is not a fairy tale.

Sinister forces were at work. A villain emerged on the stage. His name was Haman, and he hatched a plot to exterminate the Jewish race. He approached the king with his plan, and Xerxes signed a decree that would destroy all the Jews throughout every province of the Persian Empire. Little did the king realize that he had essentially signed a death sentence for his own queen. Esther was a Jew who also would be executed if the decree were carried out.

Esther won the beauty contest not so she could simply live in the lap of luxury, but so she could use her position to influence the king. Esther wasn’t quite prepared to act yet, and she sent word to Mordecai that she would run the risk of being put to death if she went into the king’s presence without being summoned.

So Mordecai put into plain language what Esther needed to know: “If you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther risked losing everything, even her very life. But that was a risk worth taking. She put her legendary beauty and feminine influence to great use, and God’s people were delivered from certain death.

Esther was in the right place at the right time. And here you are. God has been preparing you and equipping you and allowing you to experience all that you have to use you. But you need to be aware of what is happening around you. And instead of isolating yourself, you need to infiltrate and permeate. Ask yourself the questions, How can I use my influence here? How could God be glorified in this situation? What does God want me to say or not to say?

There is only one you. There is only one person like you walking this earth with your exact heritage, who has gone through the precise events and sufferings of life that have brought you to where you are today. This is your moment – for such a time as this.