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Internal Messages

“All the world knows that anyone, whether man or woman, who goes into the king’s inner court without his summons is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter; and the king has not called for me to come to him in more than a month.”

So Hathach gave Esther’s message to Mordecai.

This was Mordecai’s reply to Esther: “Do you think you will escape there in the palace when all other Jews are killed? If you keep quiet at a time like this, God will deliver the Jews from some other source, but you and your relatives will die; what’s more, who can say but that God has brought you into the palace for just such a time as this?”

Then Esther sent this message to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Shushan and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day; and I and my maids will do the same; and then, though it is strictly forbidden, I will go in to see the king; and if I perish, I perish.”

So Mordecai did as Esther told him to. Esther 4:11-17

Man what a powerful story! There is so much in the passage but today as I thought about the things Esther walked through I thought about what she had to overcome to do this. It was like I was listening to her story as I would one of my clients.

Esther was a orphan being raised by her cousin. She was abandoned by her parents through death, we don’t know at what age, but the Bible says that Mordecai raise her. They were exiled from Jerusalem and a captive of King Nebuchadnezzar. They were taken from their home and held in captivity even as they were free to walk around the city of Susa. She was an outsider who found herself in the palace of King Xeres. The imposter syndrome likely whispered in her ear as she sat with the other women. No one in the palace was aware she was Jewish. She couldn’t even be herself. For a year, she had went through a beauty treatment before being chosen as Queen. Was it really her, or just the appearance that landed her the spot in the palace?

Maybe I just put my own insecurities on her, but I have interviewed too many people not to hear them screaming out as I read the words of what she went through. She might have felt like she did not fit in, like an outsider. She might feel alone in the crowd of the harem. I don't think those thoughts are a far stretch. And those are just the thoughts before her uncle tries to guilt her and put the fear of God into her.

I hear the internal messages as Esther points out that going before the king without a direct invitation can lead to death. As a rule follower, if it is against the law, that's a valid excuse not to step out. Once she finishes explaining the outcome of breaking the rule, aka death; she points out the one way her life would be spared. Then she follows it up with another insecurity. The king hasn’t sent for me in a month. It reeks of not being enough and even a little rejection by the king. Another insecurity of why she shouldn’t step out.

Mordecai tells her that she will not escape the fate of the Jews and God will do it through someone else if needed. Maybe it was meant to encourage her to do it. She was positioned for this time by God. Again though what I hear is a threat “Either way your life is in danger. Are you going to be selfish and save yourself or save the whole nation?” He tells her she is not safe just because she is in the palace. He tells her “if anyone else does it, your family line will is dead.” Nothing like a little fear and guilt to help combat the already hesitant desire to step out.

Esther was a woman of character, that shines through from the beginning of her story. She agreed to do it, but asked to have everyone pray and fast on her behalf. She also planned to pray and fast and to have those with her do it. Clearly Mordecai had some amount of influence in the Jewish community.

Even after making the decision that she would go to the king, waiting three days through the fasting; she delayed the actual ask for few days. Was part of this tactic to help her overcome the doubts and insecurities in her own mind? I mean if the king hadn’t asked for her in month, why risk asking for the second night of being in his presence? He could have said no. It did work out within only five days, but was part of that time needed doe Esther to get out of her own head and prepare herself to fulfill her purpose. How many of us have delayed things to psych ourselves up to walk it out?

It is easy to read Scriptures and put the character on a pedestal because we know the outcome. They were every day people though, just like us. They had to work through insecurities and fears, the same as we do. They have to overcome the cognitive distortions and challenge core beliefs just as we do.

Cognitive distortions are things like all-or-nothing thinking (It’s all bad or all good), jumping to conclusions or fortune telling (Deciding what will happen in the future) and should statements (You should have done…). They keep us in a cycle of worry, depression and anger as we believe we already have the answer and it doesn’t work or we are looking back saying why it won’t work this time.

Core beliefs are deeply held beliefs that shape our values, attitudes and perspectives. They guide our behavior and decisions. Esther would have to overcome these to make the bold decision to risk her life but also to save a nation.

I am thankful that I am not a queen at risk of going before a king to risk death. Each of us though, has a purpose that is bigger than ourselves. We have to be willing to step past our doubt, insecurities and excuses. We have to overcome our core beliefs and silence the cognitive distortions.

  • I challenge my thoughts of not fitting in and being an outsider. I know I am not for everyone, but I fit into my tribe.

  • I can challenge the core belief that came from childhood because Christ chose me.

  • I can battle my inner all-or-nothing perfectionism, knowing only Christ is perfect.

  • I can chose to step out anyway past the fear of not being enough, the excuses, and my own weaknesses because in my weakness God’s strength shines and He is always enough.

  • Sometimes stepping out into something new feels like I am in danger, even if it is just my pride. I can remind myself it is not about just me, it is also about those who are dependent on my purpose, because my calling is bigger than me.

  • If it takes time for me to move past those doubts, fears, insecurities, and limiting beliefs it is okay. I can’t drag my feet for decades, delayed obedience is disobedience, I can pray, fast, and then take the leap just like Esther did.

Prayer – Lord, thank You for the lesson from Esther. Thank you for letting me see past the pedestal and that even now her obedience is stepping out is still ministering to me today. Lord, help me identify and replace those core beliefs that keep me stuck. Let me continue to challenge the cognitive distortions that keep me going around the same mountain, or worse stuck. I surrender my will to You Lord. Use me to do your will, I will obediently say “yes”!

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