I think I mentioned that I did this Bible study by Beth Moore called Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman. That study taught me a lot of things. For the first time, I went back and wrote down the lessons God taught me so I wouldn't forget. Have you ever done that - gone to a conference or did a Bible study and were just bowled over by the abundance of what God has taught you, only to forget it in the busyness of the coming weeks? I do that all the time. And I don't want to forget! So this time, I thought I'd write down all the things in the study that really spoke to me. There were quite a few actually, as I read them over to get ready to do this blog, but I wanted to highlight the most important ones to me!
The first one is that even when we can't see God, it doesn't mean He isn't there. Interestingly, in the book of Esther, the name of God is never mentioned, but that doesn't mean He isn't all over the story.
The second thing that hit me is that fear is never an excuse not to obey God. Esther had every right to fear going in to the king - she could literally lose her head. She was between a rock and a hard place - if she went before the king she could die, but if she didn't, Esther would die anyway with her people. Thankfully, Esther got to the place where she surrendered and said, "If I perish, I perish." The fear of death can rob you of the joy of life.
The third thing that stuck out to me was that our destiny is never about us. Instead of heady, it is humbling. Two statements Beth Moore made just hit me between the eyes: "Great lives don't always seem great while we are living them" and "To live for the greatness of God is to live the great life." I think I've always kind of had in the back of my mind that fulfilling my calling would be accompanied by a red carpet being rolled out and trumpets blaring or something. That focus is so off, it's almost funny. If I live my destiny, people shouldn't see me, they should see God.
The fourth thing that stood out to me has to do with how Satan works in our lives, if we let him. We are most prone to attack after we have been set free from a stronghold in our lives but haven't really yet arrived at God's destination for us. (that idea from Beth Moore was a real eye opener to me!) We are also most vulnerable in our minds. Satan can't touch us, unless God allows it, but he sure can whisper in your ear, and half the time we believe him! This statement by Mrs. Moore has been so helpful to me when this happens: "Respond to temptation out of your mindset rather than your mood." In other words, stop letting your emotions lead you around by the nose. Emotions are good things. God gave them to us, but they can be totally untrue. We have to set our minds on Christ and take every thought captive; otherwise, when our emotions come calling, we can easily be led down a rabbit trail that has nothing to do with reality.
The fifth thing that really resonated with me was that doing nothing out of fear of doing the wrong thing is still a decision, albeit a passive one. My boys play baseball. If the other team doesn't show up, they forfeit the game. It's the same way with us, if we simply don't show up in our lives because we are trying to protect ourselves from whatever looms in the horizon, then there is no game. We have forfeited our option to play on God's diamond, and we certainly have no chance of winning a game we refuse to show up for. Not deciding IS a decision.
The sixth thing that made a big difference in my own life is the fact that we can be in bondage to a person. I know in my own life, I can get so caught up in gaining certain people's approval that I get tangled up in bondage to that person. The truth is, it isn't the person but our thoughts that snare us. The only person who can handle my obsessions and insecurities is Christ. He's the only one that will fulfill every need I have, so I can go into relationship with others without demanding that THEY fulfill me. No one person can really shoulder that burden for long, anyway.
Finally, the seventh thing that encouraged me is that we are meant to be warriors for God. We aren't fragile blossoms, ready to be crushed by people, events or circumstances. The Bible tells us we are equipped for our calling. We have everything we need, even when things aren't going the way we planned or we come up against the enemy. God gave us a whole set of armor to wear, and a sword (His Word) to fight the enemy with. God assures us that even when we are waiting for the battle - that's what most soldiers hate the most, the wait!- if we are waiting on God, He will renew our strength. He's got all the bases covered.
I love how God has so many things to teach us and show us. How many times have I heard the story of Esther? That is the awesome thing about God's Word, we can read and reread it, and each time, there is something there for us to take with us that can change our lives!