Blooming Where We Are Planted

Blooming Where We Are Planted

Read:  Esther 4

Secondary passage: Galatians 5:22-25

Focus Verse: 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 your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 NIV

Have you ever felt like someplace you lived was unfriendly to new people, and you were that new person in the community? Living in such a place can make you feel isolated with no sense of belonging–unwanted. I’ve lived in a few places where I realized I’d never fit in, no matter how hard I tried. I felt frustrated and lonely. In most places I lived, I had several friends, but not these few. Eventually, I found a niche, small yet mine. And then I developed one or two good friendships, which took considerably longer than anywhere else. Finally, I began to thrive and share my faith. Eventually, God reveals our purpose in such places.

Life Springs Up in a Hostile Environment

Much like those places where we feel unwelcome, I remembered walking on the caldera of Mount Kīlauea, an active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, in 2016. The volcanic floor seemed an unlikely place to visit, let alone find life. We happened to be in Mount Kīlauea State Park on the right day because we discovered that a hiking tour would begin in an hour or so, which only happened once or twice a year. As we emerged from the lush rainforest on our hike, we came upon the volcano floor of black hardened lava glistening with occasional fine glass strands randomly stretched across small fissures. We felt the heat rise from some cracks while the sun beat down on us. Steam came up from its center that glowed at night. The park ranger who led us kept track of toxic gas levels for our safety. Yet in such an inhospitable climate grew an occasional cranberry bush. Birds occasionally flew across, stopping to eat their fruit. Each person in our group was allowed to pick two berries on this rare hike. These cranberries tasted surprisingly sweet! We happened to be at the right time and place to go on this fantastic trek.

Digging In

Just as we found ourselves in a hostile environment, the Jews were taken to Persia living in exile under King Cyrus in 539 BC. Some Jews chose to continue living there after King Cyrus issued a decree that they could return to their homeland, living prosperous lives under King Xerxes. Queen Esther and several other young virgin women were gathered and brought before the king when he sought a new wife. When he saw Esther, her beauty captivated him, so he chose her. Young and naïve, she needed her uncle to coach her on how to thrive in her situation and help her people survive in captivity.

She found favor with the King, whom she married and became his number one wife. Esther’s beauty became more extraordinary because she lived a godly life. She bloomed and bore fruit in this foreign land where their customs, religion, and more were not compatible with faith in God. She would have died for approaching him without being summoned if the king wasn’t so intrigued by her. But because she delighted him so much, he granted her plea to spare her people from certain death. She was in the right place, the right position, at the right time.

As we consider Esther’s attractive qualities, other than her physical beauty, turning to Galatians 5:22-25, we read that the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, forbearance [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.” (v.v. 22-23)  These attributes of the Christian life are attractive and sweet regardless of where we are and the attitudes of people around us.

Born for this Time

As communities become less tolerant of our Christian faith, they need us more, even though they don’t know it. It might seem best to hide our faith, but there is no better time than now to share it. Indeed, it feels nice to fit in, but we are called to be different, producing fruit that will not perish while influencing people for Christ. We were born for now.

May we be sweet and our witness irresistible like the fruit on that cranberry y bush in a place hostile for Christians. May we be as bold in our faith as Esther during such an urgent time. As wars loom on the horizon and our Christian faith is under attack, we have been born for such a time as this. May we bear the sweet Fruit of the Spirit that draws people to our Savior in our spiritually dry, desolate world. Bloom where God planted you.

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