by Dr. Judi Jackson
I heard one of our international students share recently about the opportunities she’s had since being at NOBTS to get involved in a local church and help with the youth ministry and even the outreach to other international students. Soon, Nardine Malaty will join a team of others from First Baptist Kenner in a new church plant effort.
Nardine had a lot of challenges coming from Egypt to study at NOBTS. It would have been easy for her to stay on campus and not venture outside the gates. Instead, she knew that preparation for ministry was not limited to book knowledge. She has immersed herself in learning how to do ministry from the inside out. Nardine is making the most of the part of the kingdom of God that He has her in right now.
What about the rest of us? Here are some thoughts from the story of Esther to challenge any complacency we might be sinking into at this time of the semester. Judith Caton is a student at Charleston Southern University who joined us for the Red Carpet Week women’s ministry workshop “Expanding Your Women’s Ministry through Writing.”
What’s Your Kingdom?
by Judith M. Caton
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. 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?”
Have you ever wondered what your kingdom might be? Have you ever stopped and reflected on the application of Esther’s story to modern lives? Do you ever wonder about the time such as this?
Esther’s story is in the only book in all of scripture that does not mention the name of God. However, this book holds one of the most influential stories when it comes to obeying God’s commands and embracing the opportunities we are given to serve him.
Esther was chosen to be in the king’s harem as he decided on a new queen after Queen Vashti had disobeyed him. Under the law at the time, Vashti’s disobedience was reason enough to choose a new queen. Esther’s cousin and legal guardian, Mordecai, encouraged Esther to go before the king to win his affections. Esther stood out from all of the other women and intrigued the king. He chose Esther to be the new queen and she earned his favor.
Some time later Haman, an official of the king’s guard, began to plot against the Jews. Esther had kept her Jewish ethnicity hidden because of the differences that would cause strife. When Haman began to plot against the Jews, Esther became worried for her people. As the threats began to worsen, Mordecai sent word to Esther about why she was in her position and her obligation to her people. We see in verses 13 and 14 of chapter 4 that Mordecai realizes that salvation for the Jews will come, if not through Esther then through someone else. Esther took her request to save the Jews to the king and convinced him to save her people. Because of her faithfulness, she and her people were rescued.
If Esther had not obeyed Mordecai’s initial request to go before the king for consideration as the new queen, she would have never been in the position that allowed her to rescue her people. Esther was given the opportunity to be the spokesperson for freedom for her Jewish brothers and sisters; had she not taken each earlier opportunity given to her to earn the respect and favor of the king, she would not have had the ability to save her people.
There are many times in our lives when God gives us the first step to place us in positions of authority for our peers. We may not notice the first opportunity, and may even discredit the opportunity as trivial and minute. However, God has a much bigger plan that entails obedience to each and every request He makes of you. But, what would happen if we saw even the most trivial opportunity as a massive opportunity to share the love of God? What if we treated the small moments of humility as huge acts of bravery? How different would our lives look?
Before we can act in our kingdom and embrace each opportunity that God gives us, we need to understand where or what our kingdom is. What position has God put you in that He desires your dedication to His calling? Where has he called you to speak deliverance over His people?
I would offer that your kingdom — your sphere of influence — is right where you are right now. I believe that God has placed you right where you are “for such a time as this” (verse 14). It is important to realize that God is not a god of coincidence. He is a sovereign God with a perfect plan, and each decision that we make is a part of that plan. Your decisions in your home, your workplace, your church, or even your gym are all a part of God’s kingdom that He has entrusted to you. We’re all working together to further His kingdom and, for some reason, He has allowed every one of us to influence a different part of that kingdom.
Mordecai reminded Esther of a very sobering truth though: if not through you, then through someone else.
I’d like to remind each of us of that very same truth. God has given you a sphere of influence and a mission to accomplish where you are, but it would be very naïve of us to assume that God can’t accomplish that goal without us. Mordecai essentially tells Esther what we need to constantly be reminded of: you are the one who will miss the blessing for disobeying God (my paraphrase). God has a plan and it will be fulfilled (Isaiah 46:10). He doesn’t need us nor does He solely rely on us to carry out His plan; He will have His way with or without us. We now must choose whether we want to be a part of His master plan.
So, where is your kingdom? To whom is God calling you to be a part of His story of redemption? Will you respond in obedience? Will you receive the blessing of being used by God to fulfill His promise to someone else?
“Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14, HCSB, emphasis mine).