You might remember that Esther was a Jewish young woman who was forcefully taken into the harem of King Ahasuerus. Here’s a cut from her story in the Bible from a book after her name.
And in every province where the king’s command and decree arrived, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. . . . Then Esther called Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs whom he had appointed to attend her, and she gave him a command concerning Mordecai, to learn what and why this was. So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the city square that was in front of the king’s gate. And Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries to destroy the Jews. . . . So Hathach returned and told Esther the words of Mordecai. . . .
And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in [c]Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”
There was a plot by a man named Haman to exterminate the Jewish people. Esther’s relative, Mordecai, encouraged her to talk to the king about it. She knew doing so would be at the risk of her own life. That was when Mordecai delivered his famous message to Esther that we read above. And Esther courageously responded, “Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” With that context, I’m challenging us to respond to the Lord with an attitude like Esther for such a time as this.
The Call to Sacrifice
Esther 4:14 and 16 is not a call for empowerment to use your platform and leverage your influence. It is a call to surrender and sacrifice.
Mordecai was, in essence, telling Esther that deliverance for the Jews will come however it will come (because Mordecai believed in the promise), you will die either way whether as queen or not, and who knows you’ve been made queen because God saw this plot coming so take your chance and sacrifice yourself in behalf of all the Jews. Well, that’s how I paraphrase these verses.
Here’s a woman in the direst of circumstances, confronted literally with the likelihood of death, and you see Esther being remarkably in control of her emotions. She first investigates what caused the great mourning, evaluates her own facts – in this case not being summoned to the king for a month, considers what her uncle said, calls for her community to stand with her in prayer and fasting, and goes to the king, sacrificing her life for the salvation of many.
There’s no hurry on Esther’s part. No hysterical outbursts. She’s an incredible picture of self-control because she knows that the kingdom of God is in control. I’ll say it again so you don’t forget – God is in control.
Author Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth once said, “Don’t judge the outcome of the battle by the way things look now.”
The Rider on a white horse
You see, in the here and now, as we saw with Mordecai and Haman, the wicked often flourish and the godly often suffer but don’t despair when you see that happening. Remember that things are not now as they always will be. In the early scenes of Esther, we saw the wicked partying. We see the righteous mourning as the story unfolds. But by the close of the story, the wicked have been judged, and the righteous are partying. That’s a picture of what is yet to come. The question is, are you ready for that day?
Revelation 19:11-16, HCSB. Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and He judges and makes war in righteousness. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on His head. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God. The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. A sharp sword came from His mouth so that He might strike the nations with it. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
In the end, mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous. Surely there is a God who judges on earth.” (Psalm 58:11). God writes the final chapter. It’s already written. There are no mysteries. He’s written the final chapter in eternity past, and it is being unfolded in the human drama.
A Movement to Disciple Families and the Next Generation through the Revival of the Bible
So now is the time. I am believing God for a movement of the revival of the Bible in the hearts and homes of Christian women. I am one with God in His call to disciple families and the next generation. And I want to give you an opportunity to join with me in becoming a part of the counter-cultural quiet revolution to take back the ground that has been given over to the world’s way of thinking for so many years, in your context.
As you think about that counter-cultural revolution, it may seem impossible, too-good-to-be-true even. I am here to tell you that yes, it is humanly impossible, but not to God.
How can this counter-cultural revolution happen? When you get back to your workplace you choose not to complain or gossip the way they do; you choose not to sleep around the way they do; you choose not to cheat your employer of time and resources the way they do. Yes, they will think of you nuts. Yes, they will think of you as irrelevant, awkward, and even cajole you saying, “What’s the big deal?”
In your heart you know it’s true and it matters, but you feel so alone in that; it seems like such an impossibility. When you feel that way, remember Esther—raised up by God for such a time as this to make a huge difference in her world. A common, ordinary, young woman in the human drama with a lot of difficult things in her background, but God gave her courage and faith. As a result of her surrender and her obedience, one woman in God’s scheme of things, millions of her people were spared from destruction.
This is for every woman
So many women today, even Christian women are disoriented. They’re not experiencing freedom and fruitfulness and fullness in Christ. Yes, even within the church, but God has given us in His Word a message of grace and hope for those women. So I believe, in case you didn’t hear me say it yet, that God has brought you into His kingdom for such a time as this, and that means the willingness to go against the flow.
Teenage gals, that means the willingness to follow Christ and His Word when it seems that all the other girls your age are consumed with beauty and guys and self and sex and having a good time. Girls, it means setting your affection on Christ, guarding your heart, choosing the pathway of purity, become a truth-speaker in your generation when all the peer pressure is going in the opposite direction.
Single women, it means going against the flow and choosing the pathway of contentment, to be willing to be married, willing to be single, whichever God has for you for His glory and the sake of His kingdom. It means while you are single, doing what many of my single women friends are doing—in using that time to serve the Lord. It means the willingness to be sexually pure, into your twenties and thirties and forties and fifties and sixties as a single woman, to be a servant of the family of God. There are some of you, I believe, reading this today, single women, that God may want to use your gifts and your training in vocational Christian ministry, perhaps even taking the gospel to other parts of the world as missionaries, as many single women have done before us.
Married women, it’s a call to go against the flow as well. A call to be faithful in a world of broken promises, to love your husband, to pray for him, to build a marriage that glorifies God. It means being faithful in the good times and the hard times. It means to give yourself wholeheartedly to your husband and to say “no” to emotional or physical intimacy with any man other than your husband.
Mothers, going against the flow means embracing the calling and the gift of being a giver and a nurturer of life. Don’t let the world tell you how many or how few children to have. Let God give you His vision for the impact that your children and your grandchildren could make for His kingdom for generations to come. It means a willingness to do battle for the souls of your children and your grandchildren and saying, “Lord, we’re not going to let the enemy have this next generation. We want them to belong to You.”
Older women, what does it mean for you to go against the flow? It means you choose not to retire spiritually. Don’t settle for a life consumed by some meaningless activity, or passive inactivity, or preoccupation with self. I am thankful for all the gray-haired women who have mentored me along my journey. And I would like to say to you older women, younger women need you. They need your counsel, your encouragement, your prayers. They need you to take them under your wings and help them to learn how to live lives that please the Lord. Show us how to age with grace, show us how to stay in the battle, and show us how to pursue Christ.
Something or someone is getting the attention and affection of all women across generations, and we need to pray hard, and we all need to rise up and be radiant as members of the army of God called to the battlefronts for Christ. Instead of being captured and be burdened by sin, let’s lock arms with one another advancing the kingdom of God. We all have a role to play!
Counter-Cultural Women on the Rise
We’ve got to be like the salmons, swimming upstream. What do salmons do? A quick internet search and you will know their stories and you will see pictures of how they swim upstream. They get bloodied and beat up on the rocks. And why do they do it? To give birth. To give life. They give life, then what do they do? They die. You say, “That doesn’t sound like something I want to be called to.” What a picture that is of the heart of Christ, the heart of Calvary, who swam upstream, bloodied and beaten, to give spiritual life, laying down His life to give us eternal life.
Listen, we may die in the process – die to self, or die a martyr’s death (who knows), but if we die fulfilling the kingdom purposes and will of God for our lives, so be it. If I perish, I perish.
Women and girls all around us—we live in and among them—are in bondage to guilt and fear and bitterness and anxiety and eating disorders and mood disorders and sinful behaviors and addictions. They need to be rescued from the enemy who has taken them captive. We are called to fight the powers of darkness in the name and the power and the Spirit of the Lord Jesus and to join God in His great rescue operation. We’re called to shine the light in the darkness, to see captives set free, and to see God glorified. You’ve been rescued. It’s your turn to help rescue.
This ministry of helping disciple families and the next generation, of strengthening the hand of the local churches in women discipleship; on one hand, I am privileged to be called to participate in this end-time commission, but on the other hand, there is a real sense of weakness and overwhelming inadequacy. I am safe to say I am not the only one who struggles with these feelings.
But here’s another example we can imitate. When the angel came to Mary and said, “You’re going to have a baby. He’s going to be God’s Son. I know you’re not married. I know you’ve never had sex with a man, but this is what God is going to do…” Mary asked the obvious question, “How can this be? It’s not humanly, physically possible.” This is exactly what I am feeling when I think about Women One-Anothering Women as a ministry to help disciple families and the next generation, to strengthen the hand of the local churches in women discipleship, to help women rediscover their true selves so they can stop living as try-hard false version of themselves.
How can this be? I don’t have the gifts, the skills, the abilities—no one does. This is a big, big issue—what needs to happen among women today. The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Nothing will be impossible with God”.
What was Mary’s response? In Luke 1:38, Mary said simply, in faith and humility and surrender, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Mary said, “Yes, Lord.” Esther said, “Yes, Lord.” Will you say, “Yes, Lord”?
If you were to ask Esther and Mary today, “Was it worth it? Would you do it again?” Let’s see what their answer will be based on these truthful facts – millions of Jews spared—the line through which the Messiah was to come preserved. The Savior was born. So, what do think will their answer be?
You know Christ’s calling on our lives will be difficult most times. Maybe you’re in that hard place right now. His calling will involve hardship and suffering and obstacles. Ladies, if you’ve made a decision to follow Christ, I’m telling you—it’s not a calling to an easy life. It’s not a calling to comfort and convenience and self-fulfillment. It’s a calling to glorify God, with the laying down of your life. It will involve hardship when we follow in the steps of the Savior, who was willing to lay down His life so that we could live.
When you and I see the face of Christ, and it won’t be long, if we’ve been faithful in fulfilling His calling in our lives, we will say, “Jesus, it was worth it all for You.” In fact, I think most, if not all of us will say, “I wish I’d given Him more.” Would we do it again? Absolutely.
I’m boldly asking God to raise up a great host of women, women of courage and faith and compassion and humility and wisdom and love and grace and mercy. Women filled with Jesus for such a time as this. Will you join me in that mission? Will you be a part of that counter-cultural revolution? Will you say, “Yes, Lord. I am Your servant. Take me, anoint me, spend me. Fulfill all Your holy eternal purposes in and through my life, whatever the cost”?
Your next step
What do you need to do to be part of this movement of women making a choice for Christ?
- Pray to God and make your declaration of surrender to Him. (You may want to read this WOW Manifesto to know what it’s like to go counter-cultural).
- Start living counter-culturally, swimming upstream, refusing to compromise wherever you are in whatever role you have.
- Spread the word and share the mission with the women in your church, small groups, classmates, colleagues, and families. (If you’re not sure what the mission is you may want to scroll up and read again.) Gather together. Read the Word together. Study the Bible together. Pray together. Live the gospel together.
One day soon, in this lifetime or the next, we will gather together and hail Jesus as King, women armies who rose from where we sit and took our place in the kingdom of God. It’s time for all of us to rise and be radiant for Christ’s glory to shine bright!
Father, I pray for the person reading this post. I pray You’d find here a host of women who would say “Yes, Lord,” for Jesus sake, and the sake of Your great kingdom, amen.
If you need help with resources and tools, shoot me an email – iman (at) emmylouiman (dot) com.