Tuesday, July 1, 2008

For such a time as this

Last Christmas we got a wonderful gift that was a life saver on our recent trip: a DVD player for our car. I love it, mainly because it is not installed in our car, so we can get it out for a big road trip, then store it away so we're not fighting over whether or not the kids get to watch movies when we go to Wal-Mart. J

On our recent trip, we had enough movies to last us even if we just lived in the car for the entire vacation. Seriously. I'm not good at making decisions, and you know how life is with kids: if I had brought 5 movies they would have wanted to watch the 6th one that I decided to leave behind! So I brought just about everything we had (which, to be fair, is not much—we don't watch a lot of TV), and some from the library, and a few from my parents' house. Yes, I know. Out of control.

The other inevitability with small children is that they will pick a favorite movie and not want to watch anything else. Ever. Right now, that is my children with Cedarmont Kids. Honestly, it really doesn't bother me, because they are great DVDs of kids singing wholesome songs. I'll admit, the DVD was probably made in the early 90s and was not exactly a major-studio production. But all in all, I'd rather have my kids watching that than, say, SpongeBob SquarePants (which they are not allowed to watch, by the way).

BUT on the way home, after listening to "I'm in-right, out-right, up-right, down-right happy all the time…" for about the 10,000th time in 6 hours, not to mention the several days before that, I needed a change. So I announced that it was Mommy's turn to pick a movie! Nevermind that Jon and I couldn't actually see whatever they were watching—the monitors were strapped to our headrests, so we could definitely hear every last bit!

I reached behind the seat and pulled out the stack of DVDs, or at least as much as I could grab in one hand. J I selected a VeggieTales movie and popped it in. It was the story of Esther, one that (to my knowledge) the kids had not seen before. The kids think those movies are great, and Jon and I were chuckling too, as the Jews in this story were not to be destroyed, but banished to the Island of Perpetual Tickling.

And then something unexpected happened. The movie, just for a second, took a more serious turn, and it stuck with me. VeggieTales, of course, usually takes the basic Bible story and then re-writes the script, right? I mean, the Bible is without a doubt the best and most important book ever written, but it is seriously lacking in veggie humor. I don't expect to hear a lot of dialogue taken directly from The Good Book, you know?

But this was. As Mordecai and Esther talk about Haman's plot against their people, Mordecai admonishes Esther that she could have been made queen "for such a time as this." I found myself quoting that phrase along with Pa Grape.

Esther didn't know when she was taken from her home and groomed to be a potential queen that God had a grand plan in store. She didn't seek to become queen because she knew of Haman's hate for the Jews and thought she would stop him from the inside. She didn't know the big picture. But God did.

For such a time as this…

I thought about this phrase again as I was reading about Paul in the book of Acts. He had been arrested on a trip to Jerusalem, then brought before the Sanhedrin, then before the governor, then again two years later (He was still in prison!) before the next governor, none of whom could determine any actual crimes that Paul had committed—yet they kept him a prisoner. Then a king, King Agrippa, comes to the town where Paul is being held, and Festus (the governor) has King Agrippa listen to Paul's story as well. At the end of his testimony, Paul appeals to King Agrippa's knowledge of (and belief in) the Jewish prophets, and the king scoffs that Paul would think he could "convert" him to Christianity in such a short time. And then, "Paul replied, 'Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.'" (Acts 26:29)

Paul didn't know when he was imprisoned two (or more) years earlier that King Agrippa was coming to hear him. But he took advantage of the opportunity. Maybe he was imprisoned just for that moment.

It's easy for us, as we read through the stories in the Bible, to see the big pictures in the lives of those in it. We know in our minds that Abraham and Sarah had Isaac late in life, but we don't have to live through the first ninety years with them, when they didn't know that they would ever become parents. We read about Saul's conversion, but don't think about the first many years of his life when he didn't know Christ and had no idea that the Road to Damascus would become so significant for him.

But in our own lives, we can grow impatient. Why am I here? How is God going to use me? When is God going to use me? In fact, this is where I have found myself for the past year or so. You see, back in high school I went to a missionary presentation one Sunday night… If you grew up in a missionary-supporting church, you know what it was like: lots of slides of African natives cooking over open fires, eating creatures that I wouldn't even want to see in real life; talk about life in such a rustic setting (to say the least); and lots of time to think about how that was definitely not the life for me! But at the end, the missionary gave a special address to the youth. When he was finished, he asked that those who felt called into full-time ministry—not necessarily missions, but any full-time service for God—come forward, so that the church could pray for them. I have no idea what he said prior to that or what the prayer was or just about anything else that happened that night. But I knew, without a doubt, that I needed to head up front. God was calling me, nudging me.

That was over 12 years ago, and sometimes it's easy to feel like the time from then until now has been a waste—I'm not, after all, a missionary or a writer or any of the other things I thought I might be now. But God sees the big picture. Maybe I was called then to be used now.

I was reminded by a friend's devotional yesterday that life isn't always about the doors that God opens, but about the hallways in between. The picture is from a fantastic book and that she and I both read (Chasing Daylight, which is definitely on my list of recommended reading). I am finally enjoying the journey—the hallway—without impatiently yanking and banging on every closed door, and serving God where I am, resting in the knowledge that He knows where the hall leads.

And you know what? I'm about to turn a corner. I don't know what I'll find. I don't know if I am sneaking up on Something or if Something is sneaking up on me. J But I feel it. That nudging. That call. It's back, and I am excited. Maybe it'll be tomorrow, and maybe it'll be another twelve years, but God is leading me… Someday maybe I'll be able to say, "God was preparing me for such a time as this."

But in the meantime, I want to enjoy the journey.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. I'll keep you posted. ;-)

1 comment:

Courtney said...

Seriously, I could have wrote this post. The only difference is, I am (used to be) constantly asking, why, why me, why now, why not her or him? Then my mom always tells me that God has a plan for me and a special plan at that. I need to learn to enjoy the journey.

Currently I am reading "From Daniel to Doomsday." Ever heard of it? It comes highly recommended from my mom and brother. I just started it yesterday, but it seems pretty good.