Monday, March 12, 2012

What I learned from Purim

This weekend we celebrated Shushan Purim, the festival that highlights the story of Queen Esther, the girl God used to save his people. I was really excited about planning and organizing it, because it is traditionally a masquerade with lots of fun food and drama - we get to wear costumes, play with obnoxious noise makers, eat "Hamantaschen" (Haman's ears!), "boo" whenever Haman's name is said and cheer when Mordecai is mentioned.

As I planned and prepared for the festival, I learned so much that made this old familiar story so much... more... Kind of like when you go back and read books you read as a child and realize there's a much deeper level of richness than you understood before. The story of Esther has always inspired me because it was just one girl whose courage rescued a nation. But this time I see God as the main character... he's always been there, in hidden places, nameless and invisible, but now I realize the whole story is for Him, about Him, because of Him.

The story is one way God showcases his love and faithfulness... He redeems hopeless situations, he restores honor to those who are shamed, he delivers the oppressed, he sees pain and offers his great healing, he keeps his promises, he does not abandon those he loves. And sometimes he does this through mighty acts and wonders, like he did with the plagues and the Red Sea in Exodus, or like he did in Jericho by bringing down the wall, or in Babylon in the firey furnace. But other times - and more the rule than the exception -  he chooses to bring people together, to organize ordinary events and extraordinary circumstances, and equip common people with uncommon faith and courage and power.

And I believe he's used this plot over and over again, in Scripture and in history since then. He's using it even today, at this little ministry in Fort Wayne, in churches planted all over the world, and in your life too! The moments that you have are not accidental or coincidental or random... they are part of the Plan - not "the plan for your life" that so many of us sweat and squirm about discovering. It's bigger than life, bigger than you. It's the Plan God has had from before the beginning of time. The Plan to redeem us and bring us to himself; to make us heirs of righteousness and to get glory and praise for His name out of it all. You and I are part of this plan! And if we let him, he will makes us protagonists - heroes, even - in this grand story.

I read somewhere recently that the feast of Purim will be one of those parties that we will continue to celebrate even after the second coming of Jesus. You see, it's a celebration of God's redemptive work and the fulfillment of his promises and his power overcoming the Evil that tries so desperately to destroy his beloved. And when Jesus returns, it will be the absolute fulfillment of these truths. What a party that will be! I can't wait to celebrate with the whole Family of those who have been rescued and made righteous.

Until then, remember that every day you experience deliverance and the faithfulness of God in your life is a day of Purim. So celebrate it - rejoice and make noise! Look for his hand at work behind the scenes and step onto his great stage, delight in watching the plot unfold, and play the beautiful role he has given you in his Story.

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