WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THERE IS NO CLEAR PATH?

Once upon a time there was a beautiful woman named Esther. One day she decided to get all dressed up and go see her husband whom she had not seen for a month…
(Paraphrase of Esther 5:1)

Seems like such a simple and easy thing to do. However, this was not as easy as it might seem on the surface. Not even close. As Paul Harvey would say, “Now, the rest of the story…” The deal is, if her husband, the king, didn’t want to see her for any reason she could be put to death and she knew it (Esther 4:11, 16). So why should she have taken such a risk to see him?

If you know the story of Esther, you know there was a decree made against the Jews. This decree proclaimed an “anything-goes free-for-all” to kill and plunder the Jews throughout the known world with no consequences whatsoever. Esther, being both a Jew and the queen, was one person who seemed to be in a unique position to act in this set of circumstances. However, it also seems she was not the only possible solution to this dilemma, and it was not clearly evident to her or others that she should be the one to address this. In fact, Esther 4:14 says, “Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”[1] She did not hear a voice from God to act. Interestingly, God is not even mentioned in the entire Book of Esther. She had many very good reasons not to act at all and rather to let someone else do it. So how does this apply to us today?

Even though we will probably never be put into a situation as dramatic as Esther’s, it is a clear example that there are not always clear biblical answers to a problem. Every day we have choices to make for the sake of justice and what is right. Sometimes these choices may have unfavorable consequences. Esther could have come up with some great reasons not to act. Maybe someone else could do it. She could have said, “The door isn’t opened,” “I don’t feel called” or “I don’t have peace about it.”

Esther’s story provides sufficient proof that there will be times in our lives where we will have to make a difficult decision that has great risk, that there will not be a concrete Scriptural case to act, and there will be many easy ways to make excuses to get out of it. In such situations, I offer two pieces of advice. One, is a paraphrase of a quote from Roy E. Disney: “When your values are clear, decisions are easy.” Furthermore, I often say, “If a decision is difficult, go back to your values.” Clearly for this to work well, you must spend time defining your values. To do that that, it is critical to develop a clear understanding of what pleases the Lord through knowing Him and His word. Second, I offer up the following biblical principles:

· Pray. Have your friends and family do the same and even fast for you. – Esther 4:15-16[2]
· Trust the Lord and depend on Him. – Proverbs 3:5-7[3], Psalm 55:22[4]
· Aim to please Him and not men. – Galatians 1:10[5], 1 Thessalonians 2:4[6]
· Ask those you respect for advice. – Proverbs 11:14[7]
· If you know what the right thing is, do it. – James 4:17[8]

[1] From The Message version of the Bible.
[2] Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish. (ESV)
[3] Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. (ESV)
[4] Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (ESV)
[5] For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (ESV)
[6] [B]ut just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. (ESV)
[7] Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (ESV)
[8] So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (ESV)

by Michael Burner, Deacon

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