It was Purim yesterday and the custom is to read the book of Esther – kind of obvious as what we’re celebrating is what was described in that book. Or, to be precise, we’re celebrating how that story ended – a happy ending like you get in all those action movies, where the big brave hero steps in and rescues the innocent victims and kills the villains and there is much blood and gore and much celebration, except…
Instead of the big brave hero with his guns or kung fu or laser beams, we have Esther, a Jewish girl in exile who was chosen by the Persian king to be his wife, and by the sound of it he chose her simply for her beauty. She is approached by a relative who has heard about Haman’s evil plans for having all the Jews in the kingdom murdered, and her initial reaction is basically: what can I do about it? But her relative, Mordechai, seems to be a man who is aware of what’s going on behind the scenes – he suggests to her that maybe it’s “for such a time as this” that she was made queen. In other words: there’s someone orchestrating all this, it’s not just random chance, God may not be mentioned by name in this book but he is acknowledged in this bit of dialogue. And when God is working behind the scenes to rescue us, maybe we don’t need a typical hero with guns blazing, maybe all that’s required is a weak and vulnerable human being who has the courage to do their bit and to trust God about the outcome. Esther took a huge risk – she could have been killed! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go read the story!) But she chose to trust God and to do it anyway. And God was working behind the scenes in all sorts of ways – disrupting the king’s sleep so that he would read that stuff and be reminded of… Go read it, it’s amazing how the king reads just the bit that he needs to read and then the evil Haman turns up at exactly the right time (or the wrong time from Haman’s point of view) and… wow. All such perfect timing – some people look at stuff like that and say “oh, that was lucky”, but some of us recognise it’s not random luck, it’s God working behind the scenes.
I sat here earlier to start typing this post and the computer was being slow and annoying. (It’s an old machine, it has its moments. And there was a Windows update being installed, which always slows it down.) So I couldn’t just go with the natural flow of my thoughts, I kept having to pause and wait till the computer would let me carry on typing, which was kind of frustrating. Then the phone rang. I often don’t answer the phone when it rings, and especially not if I’m in the middle of writing something like this and don’t want to lose my train of thought – but in this case my train of thought kept being interrupted anyway, so I thought I might as well see who it is. The phone call was from a very dear friend who I was so pleased to hear from I was close to tears – someone I hadn’t spoken to for ages and was thinking about only recently and… ok, it’s a bit complicated to explain all the whys and wherefores but it was an invitation for a meal which is so very much an invitation I was needing and this phone call so very totally made my day, and we had a long chat which I got so much out of because this is a person who asks “how are you” and actually wants to hear the answer in full, which is a rare and precious thing. And I would have missed this if it wasn’t for the computer being slow and clunky just then. So just as I was writing a blog post about God’s perfect timing and the way he is constantly orchestrating things behind the scenes, I got a live example of exactly that :)
My hero is God, the often hidden and silent hero, who so often doesn’t get mentioned – and sometimes people kind of acknowledge him without spelling it out, like Mordechai did in that bit I quoted, just indicating that there was a plan behind it and not spelling out whose plan. And like Esther, when I’m being courageous it’s because of trusting God, who is constantly working behind the scenes.