My junior year of high school, I somehow found myself on the prom committee. Most of my memories of high school are sketchy at best. I remember major events but not day to day stuff. So why I was on the prom committee, I have zero idea, but I remember it well if for no other reason than having to raise funds for the thing.
The Prom Committee’s one major fundraiser was the high school beauty pageant. Southerners love beauty pageants and our little school was no different. There were pageants from elementary school on up through high school. I believe there was even a Christmas beauty pageant too. Because why risk celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior without a new tiara.
O come let us adore Him. In full makeup and extensive accessories.
For reasons I cannot understand now, I had some notion that it wasn’t right to ask other girls in school to participate if the members of the committee were unwilling to do so. That kind of integrity feels completely misplaced for a high school prom committee but, regardless, I signed up.
It was the early 90’s. There was big hair and bangs and hairspray. And routinely poor makeup decisions. This was before the Seatle music scene took over. Before we realized just how angst-ridden we all were and began wearing oversized flannel shirts and Birkenstocks to prove it.
The night of the pageant, I wore a long, slim, black halter dress I’d bought on clearance the year before for prom. I want to say it was less than $25. In a sea of blue sequins and white dresses with full skirts, I was one black blazer away from corporate America appropriate. I teased my bangs to perfection, curing one layer up and one layer down, hot-rolled the rest of my blonde hair into tiny ringlets, and put on the only makeup I knew how to do…dance performance makeup.
I was a vision.
That year, 36 girls participated in the Miss High School Pageant. The judges opted to select a top 15, top 10 and top 5. Again, because southerners love very little else more than a beauty pageant queen and her court.
Out of those 36 radiant beauties, I was not selected for the top 15. To the surprise of absolutely no one. But I’d done my duty as a committee member, dagnabit, and felt free to NEVER participate in such an exercise of futility again.
(If you love a beauty pageant, good for you! Really. This is a beauty pageant judgment-free zone. I simply was not created to be IN one. Much less place in the top half.)
The Ministry of Esther’s Timing…
Esther, however, won her beauty pageant. Although, she didn’t so much sign up for it as she was required to participate, as was every eligible, young girl in the kingdom. Then they were all presented to King Xerxes so he could select a new queen.
“Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” ~ Esther 2:17 (NIV)
See, Queen Vashti had made a bad decision. She did not come when King Xerxes summoned her. She was hosting a royal banquet for the women of the court and did not want to leave it to be put on display in front of the King and all his nobles.
“Then the king became furious and burned with anger.” Esther 1:12b (NIV)
Xerxes was a winner. Crude, prone to temp tantrums, entitled, and easily swayed by his officers. If you’ve seen the Veggie Tales version of this story, they portrayed Xerxes as a little bit like Gomer Pile. I tend to think he was both Gomer Pile and the Queen of Hearts. Dumb and likely to yell OFF WITH HIS HEAD for disobeying him.
I cannot imagine what Esther was thinking during all of this. Her parents had died when she was young and her uncle, Mordecai, had taken her in and loved her like his own daughter. He came to the harem to check on her every day. At his instruction, Esther never spoke of her heritage as a Jew or where she came from.
But Mordecai, he was a loyal subject to King Xerxes. He even managed to stop a plot to have the king assassinated. He overheard some officers making plans, told Esther, and she warned the King. The conspiring officers were then impaled on poles.
OFF WITH THEIR HEADS.
If it weren’t for Haman, the highest ranking officer in Xerxes court, things might have been fine.
Haman was power-hungry and he convinced King Xerxes to issue an order that all people, including the Jews, had to bow down to him. Mordecai would not. So he decided not to just punish Mordecai, but to punish all Jews because of Mordecai. The King, once again easily swayed, agreed to the order.
This left Mordecai with one option. Have Esther plead for the Jews to King Xerxes.
Understandably, she wasn’t so sure about helping. She was safe and Xerxes could have her killed at any moment if she displeased him. But Mordecai convinced her with these words…
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” ~Esther 4:13b-14 (NIV) (emphasis mine)
Listen, if you don’t do this, God will save the Jews another way (He always has before) but you and our entire family will die. Is it possible, you’ve been placed exactly where you are for just this moment? Have you been promoted to Queen from orphan to serve as savior to God’s people?
The Ministry of God’s Timing…
You may know the rest of the story. Esther does tell the King about her family and begs for their lives. The King loves her so much (and again, he’s rather persuadable) he agrees to save them. And kill Haman instead.
Esther was, in fact, given her position for just that exact moment.
I wonder if Esther felt like most of us when all of the sudden, we get swept up into a big ole mess we never asked for nor predicted. We’re not sure why we have to go through this mess. What we’re supposed to be learning or even if we’re supposed to be learning something. We feel like our life is oddly on display when really, we were content living quietly unknown in our own home.
Then this mess, this thing, came knocking and before we know it, years have passed and we find ourselves face to face with someone going through the exact same thing we have been.
Without realizing it, our biggest mess becomes our greatest message.
And we know, maybe we went through all that to get right here, at this exact moment, to help these precious souls God loves so very much to find Him.
Perhaps we are promoted to Survivor to help another find the Savior.
When did you find your life suddenly completely wrecked?
Have you embraced the ministry of Survivor? And are you willing to help someone else going through that same mess find the Savior?
What is your Esther moment when you realize God’s timing is perfect and you have been promoted to Survivor to point someone else to the Savior?