Esther

The Summer Olympics 2020 (delayed to 2021 because of the pandemic) is in full swing. And it is all about excellence and time. How fast can you be will performing perfectly?
There, on a pool deck in Munich in 1972, sat Tim McKee, completely spent after the 400-meter individual medley. Moments earlier, he had blinked his eyes clear, looked at the scoreboard, saw a “1” next to his name and thought: “Oh, [expletive]! I won!” A blink later, his eyes moved up the board to the name of Sweden’s Gunnar Larsson, whose name was also marked with a “1.”
What?
“I had no idea what to think after that,” McKee said, all these years later. “I didn’t know at the time, but I was about to be the closest loser in the history of sports.” He lost by a thousandth of a second. After McKee lost in 1972, Olympics competitions are decided in hundredths of a second. Thousandths of a second don’t count any more. Public opinion is pressing the Olympics Committee to award him the Gold Medal for that race since he was tied for first to the hundredths of a second.
Since those Munich Games, Olympic swimming finals have produced three ties for gold. In 1984, American teammates Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer touched in 55.92 seconds in the women’s 100-meter freestyle. In 2000, Gary Hall Jr. and Anthony Ervin, also members of Team USA, thrashed to the finish of the 50 free in 21.98. And in 2016, Simone Manuel of the United States and Penny Oleksiak of Canada reached the finish of the 100 free in 52.70.
Think about the concept of time. Our memories are recalling moments in time. We measure things by time. We measure out days and weeks and seasons. We need to know what time it is. Time management is an important factor in our lives. We all wish we had more time.
What does the bible say about time?
Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes toward the end of his years as a kind of summation of what he had learned about life. This is one of my favorite scriptures.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
Our world runs on a schedule. We all run on a schedule. Solomon makes it clear that there is the natural order of things in life-birth and death, planting and harvesting. When the time comes for the first to be done it’s inevitable that the time for the second thing will happen at some point. My husband, Dave, would often say there is a first time and a last time for everything.
And when it comes to something like planting and harvesting, you won’t be able to do the latter if you miss the right time. If you procrastinate and don’t plant when the time is right you will miss the opportunity, which means you will not enjoy the harvest. When we know it’s time to do something we need to take advantage of the opportunity before me miss out.
Planting and harvesting can apply to different things in life. There’s a time to settle down and stay a while but the time may come when it’s appropriate to move and go somewhere else. The thing to be clear on is when to do it. Wait too long and the opportunity can pass you by. Act too soon and you miss the opportunity. Timing is everything. Solomon tells us there is a proper way for things to happen.
Sometimes we can see it coming, sometimes we can’t.
Solomon is putting the obvious into perspective for us but we need to be reminded of these things. Life is about seasons and cycles. There is a time for everything and everything has its due time.
In the story of Esther, the Jews were living in Susa under king Xerxes. After Queen Vashti died, Esther was chosen to replace her. Esther had a cousin, Mordecai, who raised her after her parents died. She kept her Jewish identity a secret because Mordecai had instructed her to do so.
Later, a man named Haman devised a plot to destroy the Jews. King Xerxes had elevated him to a position of high honor. The king commanded people to bow and honor him but Mordecai wouldn’t. Haman hated him for that. Learning that he was a Jew, Haman didn’t just want to kill him, he wanted to destroy all the Jews.
So, without mentioning the Jews by name, Haman went to the king and painted them in a threatening light. The king issued a decree to get rid of them. When Mordecai learned of Haman’s plot, he sent word to Esther, the one person who could help. He wanted her to approach the king to get him to stop this from happening.
Esther told the messenger if someone went to the king without being summoned they were put to death. The one exception was if the king extended the golden scepter.
Ester. 4:12-17, “When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.”
Mordecai makes it clear that if Esther doesn’t intervene God will do something to deliver his people. But he wanted Esther to consider all that has happened and to realize that perhaps she was chosen to be the Queen for this very moment. She was the one who had the king’s favor; she was the only one who could get the king to save her people. She took it all in and concluded that she was willing to risk her life to save her people.
If you read on, you’ll see that things worked out in favor of Esther and the Jews when Haman’s plot was revealed. He ended up being hung on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. There were other great things that happened as well so if you haven’t read Esther I encourage you to. It is a short book in the Old Testament. If you don’t have a Bible, let me know. We will get one to you.
Think about the events of your life and the way things have unfolded. Was there ever a time when you looked back and realized God had worked things out for you to be used in a specific way for such a time as this? Timing is everything.
We should look to the Lord for the right time to do things. Do something too soon or too late and the results can be bad. Sometimes we’d like to see things happen now. We don’t want to have to be patient and wait for things to happen. But we need to understand that God operates in perfect timing. He determines when the time is right, not us.
The older we get the more we realize this. Our world runs on time; we are bound by it. Time is something we can’t stop and it waits for no man. The only one who has control over time is God because God is the only one not bound by it. Since time is precious, it would be wise for us to think about the time we have.
Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Ephesians 5:15-16, “Be very careful then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Dear Lord, when our life on earth is done, may we stand before you and hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Father, we know our time on earth is but a few words in the big picture of things. Help us to use our time wisely, and leave our mark when our time is done. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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