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January 31, 2011 – Esther 8

Click here to read Esther 8 on BibleGateway.com

Few people can drive a theological point home quicker than C.S. Lewis. He does it so smoothly and painlessly that you don’t realize that you’ve been stuck with a barbed Bible for about a week, until you try to pull that thing out of your brain and find it’s imbedded like a popcorn kernel in a tooth.

In The Horse and His Boy (one of the Chronicles of Narnia), our hero Shasta outruns a lion into the relative shelter of a hermit’s home. As he struggles to breathe and recover the feeling in his legs, the hermit tells him to run right out the back door and keep running in order to warn the king (read the book if you want the full story, people). But as Shasta starts running, C.S. Lewis drops this: “Shasta had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.” See if that doesn’t get stuck in your brain craw for a while.

GOOD JOB. NOW FOR THE HARD PART

Esther probably thought something similar in chapter 8. After taking her life into her hands to show up on the king’s doorstep, facing down Haman at high noon, watching her mortal enemy get a hemp necktie (not really, but who could resist that phrase?), and escaping with her life she probably thought she deserved a good spa treatment and some chai tea.

Instead, she once again is forced to go before King Xerxes and plead for the life of her people, this time to reverse a royal decree which (according to Persian legal thinking) could not be reversed because a living god like the king could not be wrong. Let’ s not forget that this is the same Xerxes that once got a gift from a peasant man and was so pleased that he returned the gift with a few million dollars of his own; but the same man asked for one of his sons to be relieved of military duty and Xerxex had the son cut into two pieces so the army could march between them. Not the most stable ruler the world has ever seen.

So, Esther comes to her divine and infallible hubby  once again, and falls at his feet weeping (notice she didn’t weep the first time, for her own life), asking him to admit his error and save her peeps. Xerxes apparently was impressed enough to give her carte blanche to do whatever she wanted. Atta girl.

JANE, GET ME OFF THIS CRAZY THING

In any case, our thought for the day is a challenge. Let’s not assume that once we’ve done one thing for God, our duty is done. On the contrary, God probably has something harder coming up next. Our prayers should not be “You’re welcome, God,” but “prepare me, Lord.” It’s not always easy, or fair, at least to our way of thinking, but that’s the way life usually goes.  God is always working on us. There’s always another step, another opportunity on the horizon, each one harder and better than the one before.  That should give us pause as well as hope.

Don’t you want a tea now?

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