I am sure anyone could hear myself and two colleagues laughing as we discussed our weekend dates. Our laughter decreased as we watched someone approaching us. I still remember when Evette walked into the office dressed in a plaid suit jacket and walked with uncertainty. It was her first day on the job, so I’m sure nervousness may have been what I was seeing.
The banquet scene escalates as King Xerxes summons his wife, Vashti, into the hall so that he could show her off. Vashti refuses, and for good reason. This type of showing off was for concubines or prostitutes – not for women of honor, and certainly not for a queen. If Vashti had not valued herself and required others to respect her then I’m sure this story would have looked a bit different.
Some may say, yeah… different in that Xerses would have not declared an edict requiring every women to bow to their husband no matter their request. Different in that it made it harder for the rest of the women of the kingdom. Or what about all the women who were pulled from their homes to fulfill the king’s desire for a new wife. What about Esther who was separated from her family and placed in a palace that was full of people, food, traditions & a lifestyle contrary to her heritage.
As you may all know well, Esther’s heroism and trust in the Lord is what saved an entire nation from the hands of the evil Haman. We often hear about Esther and her bold stand before the king. She even has a book in the bible named after her. She is a pillar of courage that women for centuries have modeled in the face of persecution.
What about Vashti? Without Vashti’s boldness to stand for integrity and righteousness, there may not have been the opportunity for Esther to step forth.
We’ve all seen it, whether we chose to stand or remember. A clerk at the store who won’t serve a minority customer.
A guy at the fraternity mixer whose derogatory comments towards a girl is laughed off.
A bully at school hurling hateful words at your classmate.
A parent screaming at their child for not being good enough.
It’s not the popular choice to stand for integrity. It’s not the easy choice to risk our comfort zone. It’s the right choice to stand when everyone else kneels to conformity.
Vashti found herself standing in the midst of the most elite in the entire Persia kingdom….her husband, the King, wise men, government elite, young and old, all with wealth and pomp. She had a choice to make as all these men looked upon her beauty as she approached the kings throne. She chose to stand up. She choose integrity. She chose respect.
Vashti like most heroes of the faith paved the way for the salvation of the people of God. If Vashti had not stood for honor in the face of persecution, then Esther may have not been placed in the position of queen for God to use her to save His people.
Vashti also set a standard of honor as a queen. Surely the king felt the weight of his absurd decision once he became sober from his 6 month party. Surely when Esther approached the throne uninvited, Xerses thought of his beloved Vashti who took a bold step to demand respect.
Whether you are an Esther, a Vashti, or one of the other people at the party, always remember God created you with value worth far more than rubies. Anyone, man or woman, who fails to respect that value in which God has given you should be reminded.
God values you,
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There before me were two doors. Both were occupied, so my bladder waited patiently like my mother taught me growing up. We had driven 45 minutes to this village, so there were no restrooms available. We were only surrounded by plants, a dirt road, and the bush. This water closet experience looked to be promising considering there were doors and the structure was made of concrete. Two things that are not common in most villages I had visited.
“Drug test, Ma’am? Drug Test, Ma’am?” shouted the small Filipino man as we walked up the narrow stairway in front of us. We could barely make it to the top of the stairs due to his excessive desire to help us….. in expectation of money for his services.
My fellow missionary friend and I were confident that we could find our own way. This was unlike any western facility used for drug testing. The narrow, dark stairway was dirty and reeked of unfamiliar smells. It was evident that the building, like most in the Philippines, was once nice about 100 years ago. We entered a small room with a few tables and explained our desire to have a drug test in order to obtain our drivers license in the Philippines.
Of course, with any drug test the obvious is required, a urine sample. On any other day this would have been an easy task, however, communication had been misinterpreted that day between my friend and I. I didn’t drink enough water to complete the task at hand. In the back corner of this room was a door which led to where the specimen would be given.
In a small Ukrainian village was a concrete slab with hole dug deep into the ground. The hole was big enough to fit a teenager down it, so it was human size. On top of the hole was a wooden structure built to give privacy to its guests. At the time of my arrival, this hole had been in use by a church congregation of 100 people for the past 13 years.
That’s right! Thirteen years of human waste caused a smell that can only be described by two words, “toxic FUMES.” The toxic fumes that can still penetrate your nasal passages through the two layers of clothing you are holding over your nose and mouth.