“[He is] always striving for you earnestly in his prayers, [pleading] that you may [as persons of ripe character and clear conviction] stand firm and mature [in spiritual growth], convinced and fully assured in everything willed by God.”
– Colossians 4:12
Oh, how I love the Lord. No matter what your season looks like, when it’s with Him, it’s better. He is truly a good, good Father – always teaching, and always loving, and when He makes us go through humbling growth processes, it doesn’t mean He is mad at us! He is simply preparing us so He can increase our capacity and fully accomplish His will for our lives. I’ve recently been asking the Lord to teach me how to navigate through my process, and He reminded me of Esther – the classic example of a godly woman who obeyed Him and was used mightily to help save her people. She not only honored God ultimately, but throughout her entire journey, and I believe He wants us to take the very same steps in order to prepare according to His will.
So, what did Esther’s preparation look like?
The Bible describes Esther as “beautiful and lovely”, well before she was ever chosen to be taken to the king’s palace (Esther 2:7). We don’t know if she actually wanted to be there or not, but once she arrived there, Esther immediately humbled herself by submitting to the year-long process of getting ready to meet the king. She obtained the favor of Hegai, her supervisor, and was quickly given the things for her purification, her portion of food, seven maids, and the best apartment in the harem. When she finally had the chance she had been preparing for, she laid down her own desires and “required nothing but what Hegai the king’s attendant…suggested” (Esther 2:15). So, Esther met the king, was chosen as queen, and the rest is history! Sounds quick and easy, right?! I’m not so sure. Let’s take a look at how she handled her preparation season, and imagine it as if we were in it…
- Esther humbled herself
The first thing we see in this story is that Esther humbled herself and submitted to the immediate process in front of her – the growing season God had placed her in. Though she came into this situation already considered beautiful and lovely, she didn’t scoff and think, “Nope. I’m too good for this. I know who I am. If the king doesn’t like me as I am, then what is the point?” She accepted the fact that she needed to be prepared. She embraced the humility of her “getting ready” season because she realized that there was someone higher that she was placed there to please, and that someone was God! God knew that Esther needed to grow in humility in order to be strong enough to lay her life down if necessary, so He did not disdain placing her in this year-long season of patience, submission, and personal growth.
Relating this to us: as people who are called by God, our goal should be to ready ourselves in order to be chosen by Him. However, to be chosen by Him means submitting to the process of His choosing as well. You see, there is a humility in getting ready the way the Lord wants you to be ready. Like Esther, you may already be considered “ready” for your next season in the eyes of the world, but it is only the Lord’s eyes that truly count. He wants to purify us to the core. If we don’t prepare and purify our hearts by submitting to His process with humility, we won’t be able to receive all that He has for us. If we think we are ready for more, and we are wondering why He isn’t moving us forward yet, it may be because He is still wanting to work some things out inside of us that we are unaware of (see Field of Dreams blog about partnering with the Lord in what He’s doing in you!). However, it could also be that He is proud of the way in which you are submitting already – and He is using you as an example exactly where you are. 🙂 Both seasons are valid and can equally be God’s will! Either way, we need to follow the example of Esther who modeled how to humbly submit to God’s process for as long as it takes.
- Esther grew in favor with God and man (and in love for them)
In addition to enhancing her outward appearance through the year-long beauty treatments, throughout the book of Esther, the author repeatedly mentions that Esther gained the favor of those around her. When she gained the king’s attendant’s favor by most likely simply being kind and honoring to him, he blessed her more than all the women, and after Esther was chosen as queen, the king was so elated to bless her that he offered up to half the kingdom to her! This shows me that not only did Esther humble herself enough to submit to her process of purification, but she also took every opportunity to love and honor those around her. God was growing her in favor with Himself, and in favor with man – just like the process that Jesus went through! I asked the Lord why this was so important, and He showed me Ephesians 1:7-12:
“7 In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor, 8 which He lavished upon us in every kind of wisdom and understanding…12 so that we who first hoped in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him have been destined and appointed to] live for the praise of His glory!”
Wow. So, through His salvation, God has given us favor so we can live for the praise of His glory, or in other words, be His representatives on the earth! In fact, if we are truly living for the praise of His glory, God will ensure we have the most favor possible with Him and His people so we can glorify His name even more! Growing in favor with God and man is not self-promoting or selfish, but it is a process in which we actually live our lives in such a way to say: “It’s not about me.” If we live to love and please the Lord, we will obey Him by placing Him, and then others, before ourselves. When we do that, the Lord grants us favor because He sees – “Now, that is a person I can honor and bless who will not let it go to their head! They will ultimately honor and bless Me no matter what!”
Think about it: God wanted Esther to be in the palace so she could save her people and give Him glory. If she was worried and fearful about growing in favor with man by becoming queen, she would have completely missed out on the opportunity that God had hand-picked her for! On the other hand, if she was selfish once she got to the palace, she would have ignored her Uncle Mordecai’s request of her to go before the king, her people wouldn’t have been saved by her influence, and not to mention she could have lost her own life in trying to preserve it! Because Esther prepared her heart and character in her preparation season by growing in love for other people, she was ready when the Lord called her to lay her life down for them. Her choice to ultimately go before the king even though she could have been killed took all the courage she had, but God had grown her so much in love for Him and His people that she could not imagine disobeying, and He had also given her favor so that His will could be fulfilled.
- Esther laid her desires down to pick up her king’s
The final way in which Esther humbled herself in her preparation season was in choosing what to bring with her into the king’s chamber. To give a little context, the book of Esther actually began when the previous queen, Vashti, rebelled against the king’s desires. She, just like Esther, had been given the royal preparation and placement in the palace as queen, but she lost it all due to not being willing to forsake her own desires and honor her king’s. On the other hand, so many girls other than Esther went through the year-long purification process, but they were not chosen. Could it be that they were unwilling to be teachable or to learn from the king’s attendant what it was the king actually desired? To put it in terms that relate to us, could it be that they had not yet learned to submit to the Holy Spirit, their parents, and their leaders, and instead chose to do/say/have whatever they personally wanted instead? They may have forgotten that the goal was not what they wanted, but what the king wanted. The goal was to marry the king.
One of the greatest things that we can learn from a waiting season or preparation process like Esther’s is how to lay down our desires for the Lord’s. When we come to know Him more – which is what a waiting season allows us the time for – we discover that His desires were actually what we wanted all along. We can now come to Him with honesty and say, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” To think that He loves us enough to actually give us the time and space to learn and grow into what is best for us! He has in mind for us even greater glory than we can fathom, and He is strengthening our character so that we can stand, no matter what happens. He wants us to humble ourselves, like Esther, to submit to the process He has us in and to choose to lay down our own desires for His greater ones. Our goal is to marry our King. 🙂
In conclusion, preparing to walk further into God’s will for us…yes, it is humbling, yes, it is stretching, yes, it can be a long road, but it is marked by intimacy with the Father, a greater understanding of ourselves, and the confidence that His love makes it worth it all. As long as it takes, getting ready the way God wants grows us in humility, in favor with God and man, and in learning how to lay down our desires for His. Just like Esther, God desires that we be so reliant on Him that, when given the opportunity to do something for His Kingdom, we will not cower and shrink back, but instead, even through our fear, we will stand with boldness, courage, and obedience. The longer your preparation season, the more He is preparing you for.
Will you submit to the humility of preparation like Esther?