When I was twelve years of age, I took on a summer responsibility of managing the houses of vacationing neighbors. It was their idea, not mine. Three families that lived side by side were planning to be out of town for a month. They each needed someone to cut their lawn, feed their pets, water their gardens; in sum, make sure their properties were cared for. They invited me to take the job. More accurately, they asked my dad to ask me to take the job. He didn’t ask me. He told me. I didn’t want to do so. After all, I had Little League games to play, a bike to ride and, uh, uh, uh…those were the only two reasons I could muster. They got me no traction.
Before I knew it, I was sitting down with each of the families, making a list of the tasks I needed to manage on their behalf. I recall walking home from their houses feeling something I’d never felt before. I felt overwhelmed. Forgive me if my weight seems nothing compared to yours. Keep in mind, I was only twelve years old. To cut grass, feed pets, and make sure doors were locked in three households for a month? I mean, one family had a goldfish. I’d never fed a goldfish. I envisioned finding the little fellow floating on his side, dead from being under or over fed.
But there was no getting out now.
On the first day of my unsolicited career, I hurried home from baseball practice, jumped on my bike, and pedaled like crazy to the residences. Three lawns needed mowing. Three houses needed attending. Three sets of locks needed checking. Three families whose pets needed feeding. Three gardens needed watering. This was too much for any human being to handle.
Just when I was about to learn the meaning of the phrase “panic attack”, I saw it. Parked in front of the middle house. White, wide, and fresh off a day in the oil field. My dad’s pickup. He was there. The garage door was open, and the lawn mower was on the driveway.
“You start cutting the grass,” he said. “I’ll water the plants.”
With those words, everything changed. The clouds lifted. I could face the task because my father was facing it with me.
Your Father wants to do the same with you.
Seasons of struggle can be a treacherous time for the human heart. We are sitting ducks for despair and defeat. We turn away from others, turn our backs on God, and turn into fearful, cynical souls. Despair can be a dangerous season. But it can also be a developing time, a time in which we learn to trust God, to lean into his Word and rely on his ways.
The choice is ours. To help us choose the wise path, God gave the wonderfully wild story of Esther. The setting is Persia, 5th Century BC. King Xerxes declared a holocaust. He plans to destroy all the Jews of his vast empire. Unbeknownst to him, his Queen Esther and one of the members of his court, Mordecai, are Jewish. Both have disguised their ancestry. Upon learning of the decree, Mordecai stripped himself of his Persian disguise. He cried out to Esther to intervene.
She resisted. Dare she risk her life and make an appeal to the fickle Xerxes? Mordecai’s reply was surprisingly sober.
“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 4:13-14)
Relief will come! How did Mordecai know relief would come? I can only assume that he stood on God’s Word. He remembered God’s promised deliverance of the Jewish people.
- Be their God and God would be their people. (Jer. 32:36ff)
- Gather them from all the countries. (Eze. 37:24ff)
- Send a king through them and to them to establish an eternal kingdom. (2 Sam. 7:16; Mt. 1:21)
He recalled the covenants and the covenant-keeping character of God.
Relief will come! This was Mordecai’s message for Esther. And this is God’s message for you. Feeling undone by the struggle? Then let God unleash the power within you to face it. Shift your focus away from the challenges at hand and ponder the power of your almighty God.
Don’t measure the height of the mountain. Ponder the power of the one who made it. Don’t tell God how big your storm is. Tell the storm how big your God is. Your problem is not that your problem is so big, but that your view of God is too small.
The next time you feel the weight of the world, talk to the One who made the world. As your perception of God grows greater, the size of your challenge grows smaller. If God can sway the heart of a Persian monarch and reverse certain death into victorious life, do you not think he can take care of you?
Relief will come. Your Father will give you strength to meet the day. By the time you reach your assignment, he will be there to help you.