We all have a need for life to make sense. A recent posting on facebook: Someone will walk into your life one day and you will finally understand why the relationships in your past never worked out.. One person answered. BECAUSE EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON!
We see truth of God’s purposes working out for good through-out the book of Esther: if any one thing would have been different, the story would have changed. In our daily life, we often don’t have a direct awareness of great miracles, life changing events; the greatest miracles are the constant daily reminders God is directing our paths. A few years ago I was between jobs, depending in part on income from eBay and funerals. In one stretch, for about four months, I had no funerals and I ran out of things to sell on ebay. I got an ordinary call from Ruth Glass asking if I would teach the Bible Study at the Senior Center. I did. While there one of the woman, whose husband had died a year earlier, was moving to a smaller home. I mentioned eBay during the Bible study; afterward this woman asked if I’d like a few books from her husbands study. I had lots of time, so I said I’d take a look and went over that afternoon. One thing led to another, and she asked me if I would clean out his study and in exchange I could keep anything I wanted to sell. As I started digging I told her at least a dozen times are you sure, because I could tell there were some valuable items. I even offered her $500 at one point, pretty sure I could make that much back. Scientific calculators and programs, a few antique guns (Duane helped me on those), military documents, I made close to $5000.00. One more affirmation Sally and I were where we were meant to be… Don’t tell me God does not orchestrate our lives. I can repeat similar stories a dozen times just in ebay “coincidences.” You can do that with your life too. Here’s a story from Shelly Simpson:
Morgan and I were going to be stationed in New Orleans, we were so exited. We were still kind of in the party days of our life. With under one year under our belt of marriage we were ready to get off the Rock of Ketchikan Alaska. 6 days before transfer our Orders got changed -- CAPE DISAPPOINTMENT WA! Can you imagine the "Disappointment." To make a long story short we had a sponsor who helped us find our apartment, they were Christians. I had never met people like them. We soon went to church and "we were radically saved" Love it. Look back and Think WOW. One event leads to another to…
One of the incredible concepts I learned 25 years ago that has been encouraging and helpful to me is the idea of a Sacred Canopy. The idea that God’s hand of guidance is on every aspect of life. I have heard many people express that they feel closer to God in the mountains, nature, the trees and lakes, and that’s understandable, but the idea of a Sacred Canopy enlarges that idea to be able to see God everywhere: in the cities, the garbage dumps, riding in a car, work and play and vacation and the getting up in the morning and going to bed at night, at church and at work, coffee with the guys, hunting for bear, getting the mail. How easy it is to compartmentalize God so that we feel closer to him in church or nature type settings but then live a different life on Friday night at the party. To understand there is a sacred canopy it to see God in the whole of life, every aspect, every nuance, the falling of a sparrow from the sky, the thunderstorm, directing your path to the person you will marry someday. Watching daughter’s path to George Fox, Jack to Columbia Bible College… A Sacred Canopy, nothing left to chance. There is a reason for everything under the sun, God is in all and through all.
Esther as a whole is a great example of a sacred canopy: God is not mentioned, but God is everywhere. Any page of the Bible, is of course, a detail in the grand plan of salvation in which God ordained before the world, but somehow in our finite minds its easy to get lost in the details and lose focus on God’s march towards reconciliation with his people. Esther is a reminder of God’s sovereignty in daily living. One person said, “a coincidences is a miracle in which God prefers to remain anonymous.”
When my children were young Sally and I used to read a lot of picture books. To me, one of the most delightful books was, “If you give a mouse a cookie…” If you give a mouse a cookie, chances are he’ll ask for a glass of milk…which leads to a milk mustache, and looking in the mirror, and noticing he needs a haircut, eventually taking a big circle and getting back to the cookie. Esther is kind of like that, one event leading to another, to another, to another…. Life is kind of like that and I can tell you the story of how I met Sally, why I am here, and 10,000 other stories. I can tell you a story across generations, how my parents were raised on the east coast and west coast, met in college and ended up in Sumas 60 years ago. And your life is also a series of events with God’s hand in every step bringing you to this place today.
The difference between your life, the story of Esther, as compared to the “give a mouse a cookie book” is that in the book a big circle transpires, but in Esther, God is leading the events to an unfolding pre-determined purpose of salvation. In the cookie book it is a cute circle with no real purpose other than entertainment, but in life, we are being lead by God to accomplish his purposes. We often can’t see the big picture, so along the way we simply have to trust God and understand there is a sacred canopy. Shortly after my father died a few people dared to say, “Why do the good ones have to die?” And I can remember talking that question over with my confidant of those days, Ruth Glass, and we agreed God has purpose and order and whatever he decides is his choice: the rain falls on the just and the unjust. I may not always understand, I may wish to have a different story written, but it is God’s purposes that prevail, his will that will be done, his passions that will rule the day.
To understand there is a sacred canopy over all of life is important…
Your life, your entire life is suddenly holy. Esther is not an exceptional book in which we peer in from the outside and are awed. Yes, her influence impacted a nation, but that was God’s design for her life. Esther is a representational book, showing us how God is behind the scenes controlling the ebb and flow of our life as well. God has his own design for our life.
A sacred canopy unmasks a consistency to life. Even when we don’t understand why this happens or that happens, to believe by faith that God loves us and understand everything happens gives us assurance and hope.
A sacred canopy is transformational let’s us give up control, it produces understanding and peace and contentment. I’m not sure I understand how God works in the world of sports, but I do know that when I was younger, if my favored team did not win, I was bothered. Now, while a lot of fun, not as important, because God’s purposes are greater…The night Forest’s team won the state championship last year, I would have slept the same even if they’d gotten second place by a point.
A Sacred canopy translates into an acceptance because suddenly everything that happens has order, purpose…Esther’s declaration when she resolves to approach the king is an amazing statement of faith: If I die, I die. She accepts the outcome no matter what it brings.
As people of faith, the best we can do is make the best decisions possible and leave the outcome to God. The stock market may rise or fall, but the Lord is faithful. The vast majority of the time we get in a car and make the trip safely, but accidents happen, and God is God and will sustain us and love us all the same. Peter, the disciple of Jesus, was spared in the N.T. book of Acts, and in the same book, James dies. And God is God. And he is faithful. And his purposes will prevail. A sacred canopy of God’s sovereignty, God’s power, God’s might, God’s love, God’s orchestration of life events. One event leads to another, we call it ordinary life, and it is, but God is there.
This is the last message in this series from Esther. In the Jewish faith, when Jews celebrate Purim, commonly the book is set to rhyme. I have a copy of one of the rhymes, which I cannot possibly read the entire script unless you want to skip the potluck dinner today. I will read a few stanza’s to give you a flavor, but I am really impressed by the main lesson the writer of this poem draws from Esther. The lesson is found in the first and the last. (NOTE: Esther in Rhyme is posted as a separate entry on the website as the entry above this posting)
“Unmask and all is revealed” There’s the lesson, what a beautiful subtitle to the book of Esther: Unmask and all is revealed. What a beautiful subtitle to our lives: when we are confused, when life doesn’t make sense, to ask the Lord to unmask his purposes, to bring order out of chaos, to bring understanding and clarity. A sacred canopy is to understand God is in and through everything. Our lives are a wonderful story being written by our heavenly father who brings all things together to accomplish his divine purposes. We see it in Esther where there are clearly no coincidences, the king has a sleepless night and the world is changed. We see it in our world, one event leading to another, a person comes into our lives, a timely conversation, and we are transformed. Unmask, and all is revealed.