Roy Exum: Lucado: Do you want a partner?
It might be a little personal, but I won’t apologize. Some of my best friends are ‘going through the fire’ right now and while I dare not give examples or share names, it gives me the opportunity to forward this column. “Hey, here’s an article I wrote for Sunday that you might enjoy.” I do this once in a while, when I write something that I find funny or when I write something that some friends will enjoy. But this one is different. It’s for other fighters like me.
Max Lucado, a pastor from San Antonio, speaks my language, which is why I read a stack of his books. Last week he wrote an “opinion piece” on the Fox News website that wowed me and as I read it I wondered if I should pass it on to some friends, if they are Christians. or not.
You see, we all need a friend – some kind of partner – and although I’ve always been hesitant to impose my personal beliefs on others, that way I can send them a copy of my column – which contains the wisdom of Max. You know, like just a friend who cares …
There’s nothing complicated about looking for a mate during tough times, but, as Max shared on the Fox website, there is “one essential way.” Do you think you might know someone who would read about Queen Esther? Or his real partner? I know I doâ¦ and later today I can send in my column with the noteâ¦ “Hey, maybe you need a partner right now?”
It could be a Sunday blessing for someone you know …
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âDO YOU WANT TO BE A PARTNER WITH GOD? THIS IS THE ESSENTIAL WAY â
By Max Lucado, Fox News release October 10, 2021.
Several films have been based on the biblical story of Esther. In those I have seen, she is lovely. Crescent-shaped eyes, unblemished olive skin. A Hollywood idol, this lady. And, indeed, she must have been such that she was chosen as Queen of Persia from among a harem of charming suitors.
The films are also unanimous about the moment of great drama: Esther and her unsolicited visit to King Xerxes (pronounced “ZER-keys”). She stands at the entrance to the throne room, dressed in elegance. The camera can hardly bear to turn away from its splendor. When it does, we see Xerxes wide-eyed and open-mouthed. “What can I do for you, my beauty?
The implicit message of the films is clear: Esther’s beauty softened and swayed Xerxes’ hard heart. Yet the scriptures tell a different story. Yes, she appeared before the king. Yes, she did it at great risk. And, yes, Xerxes lowered his scepter and invited him in. But it wasn’t her beauty that made the difference.
Look at the text and see if you agree.
Then Esther sent this response to Mordecai: âGo, gather all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. this is done, I will go to the king, even if it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish. (Book of Ester 4: 15-16 NIV)
Esther faces an immovable wall and the possibility of death for taking the wrong step. She responded, not with a call to her hairdresser, but with a retreat into the prayer room. Rather than rushing into Xerxes’ throne room, she humbled herself and entered God’s throne room.
In the movie I’d Like Someone to Make, Esther collapses into a heap, face first on her bedroom floor. His nation is on the verge of being slaughtered. It’s gonna be a bloodbath, and she’s sleeping with the king who ordered it. Her maids see her fall to the ground and rush to her aid. She signals them to leave. “Just make Mordecai say, I’ll go see the king. Even if it costs me my life. Tell everyone to pray.”
What if the only thing between you and a season of refreshment was prayer?
It’s a new Esther. Until then, she had relied on her beauty. Now she throws herself on her God. She will soon be standing in front of Xerxes. She will soon be risking her life. She will seek to overturn an irreversible law that was sponsored by the most powerful man in the empire and approved by the king’s own signet ring.
She knows that God’s intervention is their only hope. It is a prayer of despair. Three days. No food. No water. Fears have won the day. Hunger was gnawing at his guts. The dehydration dried out her skin and made her eyes sunken. She prayed a prayer of tears.
You might know what happened next. When Esther entered the king’s throne room, she was again a picture of Persian perfection from head to toe. A look at her and Xerxes’ jaw hit the ground. Scripture says, “He was pleased with her, and held out to her the golden scepter that was in her hand” (5: 2).
But it wasn’t her glamor that opened the door to the throne room. It was his prayers. She came before the king in beauty only after having lingered before the king of kings in humility. Are we not called to do the same?
Many years ago, when our family was living in Brazil, a new Christian came to ask one of our church leaders a question. He had read his Bible (it is good for him), and he discovered this promise: “Whatever you ask in prayer, believing you will receive” (Mat. 21:22 NKJV).
âDoes our church believe this passage? He wondered.
What does a missionary say? “Yes of course.”
“So,” he asked, “why do we work so hard and pray so little?”
Good question. Why do we do it? What if the only thing between you and a season of refreshment was prayer? I don’t mean a shallow hats off to “the man above.” I’m talking about sincere prayer. I can’t think of a simpler – or more important – way to partner with God in the midst of our challenges.
What is your version of Xerxes? Is your job in danger? Is your loved one in palliative care? Is your family under attack? Is your faith in tatters? Retire into your prayer room.
The queen was able to enter the throne room of Xerxes because she had spent time in the throne room of God. It is the same in your story and mine. Once we have spoken to the King of Heaven, we are ready to face any king on earth.
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(Max Lucado is a San Antonio pastor and best-selling author. His most recent book is “You Were Made for This Moment: Courage for Today, Hope for Tomorrow” (September 2021, Thomas Nelson). He is also the host of the âMax Lucado Encouraging Wordâ Podcast. Visit his website at www.MaxLucado.com or follow him on Twitter: @MaxLucado.)