I do not watch The Bachelor. Not usually. Not on purpose. At least not unless I just happen to have the tv on as background noise while I'm grading papers.
Ok, so sometimes I watch it. I probably shouldn't. Because usually by the time the show ends, my pride is puffed up a little for comparing myself to these girls who are stooping to all kinda crazy to fight over a man who is clearly having his cake and eating it too. They sob and they rant when he chooses one of the other girls, and I find myself yelling at the television, "Honey, did you not watch the show last season? You signed up for this!"
Reality television--clearly more television than reality, right? But as I watched the season premier of The Bachelor the other night (rationalized by the stack of punctuation tests in front of me), I realized that a similar situation actually was reality almost 2500 years ago. The bachelor? King Ahasuerus of Persia. The unlikely favorite? A Jewish orphan named Esther.
Esther has been on my mind a lot lately (not at all evidenced by the fact that I am pulling Biblical analogies out of reality tv...ha). In the summer of 2008, several of my closest friends and I went on a 10-day mission trip to Johannesburg, South Africa. We had the privilege of serving with Steve and Teresa Kinsley, full-time missionaries and founders of Mission Sebenzela. Towards the end of our trip, Mrs. Teresa prayed for our group. As she prayed specifically for the girls, she mentioned that God was "raising up many of these girls to be Esthers." At that moment, I had chills that literally went from my head to my toes and back again. It wasn't like the little goose bumps you get when you are touched by a message or a song. I knew God was telling me to pay attention.
This was a pivotal point in my life because I was just coming out of a period of avoiding God. No, I wasn't living a lifestyle of flagrant sin. No one would have known it but me. I went to church, faithfully attended my small group, and did all the right things--purposefully keeping God at a distance the whole time. My relationship with Him had become almost non-existent, and I was beginning to think that God had probably given up on me. Until He called me Esther.
I still don't have much insight into what that means. At the time, the meaning behind it wasn't nearly as important as the fact that I felt God speak to me. To say that He wanted me. To say that even though I had run, He loved me and had a purpose for my life. That was the only thing that mattered to me in the summer of 2008. But now, 2 1/2 years later, as I pray towards a possible future in overseas missions, I want to know...what does it mean to be an Esther?
As for the real Esther...
- She was raised as an orphan by her cousin Mordecai.
- She was chosen by the king's overseers as one of probably hundreds of beautiful young virgins to compete for the king's affections.
- She found favor with Hegai, the king's eunuch, and with all who saw her.
- When it was her turn to meet with the king, she took only what Hegai advised.
- She was chosen by King Ahasuerus as queen in place of Vashti. (Had she not been chosen, she would have spent the rest of her life in the 2nd harem, living a life of virtual widowhood. How's that for a final rose ceremony?)
- As the new queen, she risked her life to save her people from genocide.
It reminded me of what my pastor David Platt says is his constant prayer, "God, I pray that today, now, you would lead me to the people, places, and positions where I can most effectively make disciples of all nations." For me, it is a reminder that no matter how much I may consider a future overseas, today my "positions" in His kingdom are teacher, coach, small group leader, daughter, sister, and friend in Alabama. God's purposes for salvation will stand with or without me, but it will be my loss if I choose not to be a part of them. May I not keep silent about the gospel in such a time as this.