Recently, as I prepared to teach a lesson on Acts 12, I noted that I should point out to the class how God allowed the apostle James to be put to the sword, but then chose to deliver Peter from a similar fate. Why would God allow one to die, and the other to live? To answer this question, I turned to Acts 17:26 and Psalm 31:14-15, which make it clear that God establishes where we will live, as well as how long, before we are even born, and that we need to trust him with the timing of our lives. The application I wrote down to share with the class was that my Grandmother was in the hospital with pneumonia that week, and although my (selfish) prayer was that she would recover so that we would be able to see her this summer when we visit Tennessee, I also trusted that her time to live and die was ordained by God.
Finished preparing that lesson, I put it aside and turned back to my current study of the book of Esther. As I took a deeper look into that well-known story of kings, queens, intrigue and irony, I realized that a major theme of the book connected with my lesson on Acts 12. God elevated Esther to a place of favor and power in the palace before Haman was ever promoted to second-in-command. Thus, when the very existence of God’s people was threatened by Haman, Mordecai immediately recognized that God had put Esther in her position for “such a time as this (Esther 4:14).” With Mordecai’s encouragement and God’s help, Esther was able to turn the tables on Haman and save her people. In the same way, God has ordained for each of us the “times and places we should live (Acts 17:26),” that we may in some way impact our world for Christ.
This truth became poignantly palpable for me later that week, as my Grandmother did not recover from pneumonia and I traveled back to her funeral. Through the testimonies of family during the funeral service and the many conversations I had with those who knew my Grandmother—extended family, friends, nurses—it was evident that she, with her gentle and quiet spirit, had impacted countless people during the 95 years that God gave her on this earth.
Oh Lord, may I, like both Esther and Grandmother, recognize and courageously step up to fulfill Your calling, and spend my life in useful service to You.