Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Esther 4 . . . Veteran's Day
I want to express my sincere gratitude to all who serve, and have served, to keep our country safe. Your willingness to risk your lives, to be separated from your families, and to submit your lives to another's leadership and decisions is a Christ-like quality. I value that I live in a country where I am free, where I can freely proclaim my faith, where I can raise my daughters, and where I have easy access to food, clothing, and shelter. I treasure that I can write a blog, express my views, preach from the pulpit, and do so not in fear. Again, thank you to all who have and do serve, and to all the families that share their loved ones in the service with us.
Let us, who call on the name of Christ, remember that we never cease being soldiers in a spiritual war until the day we are called home to Heaven. Unlike the seasons of our life where we may have served in the military, there is no retirement from the war we are in. Even if we choose to "step out of it" or ignore it, we are in the war none-the-less and the enemy never rests. One of the greatest challenges I faced as a platoon leader in Panama shortly after the invasion was keeping my men at a high level of readiness. After days and weeks of no encounters we tended to drop our guard, forgetting that the enemy, when he chooses to attack, will do so at 100% readiness.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say we are to be afraid of the devil and his hosts, but it does say we are to be on guard, vigilant, and prepared against him. He is an enemy who I feel that Haman in the book of Esther represents well. Haman was the man behind the orders given in Esther 3:13 which says: And the letters were sent by couriers into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth [day] of the twelfth [month], which [is] the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions. Satan is a thief and a liar who works in deception, and he is ruthless beyond measure. Just look in to the lives and eyes of those around you and see the hopelessness, pain, broken marriages, "orphan" children, deceived people, depression, longing for love and worth, wasted lives and resources and hours, addictions, blasphemies, vulgarities, and twisted senses of right and wrong that call good, bad, and bad, good.
The exciting thing is, if Haman is a picture of Satan, and the book of Esther has anything to say about it to us, then Haman and his plans were defeated when Esther rose to her place and exercised her favor with the king. She was given Haman's house, and Mordecai was given rule of Haman's house and the Kings signature ring of authority that used to be Haman's. The very gallows Haman intended to hang Mordecai on became his own gallows (just as the cross the devil intended to destroy Jesus on became Satan's own defeat). The Jews, strangers in the land (like us), moved in the King's authority and destroyed the hosts that Haman had stirred up against them. It is a beautiful word and picture, I believe, of the life we are called to live in as servants of Christ—tender and loving and humble to others around us, and ruthless to the hosts of darkness we have been given authority and command to oppose. Just as Mordecai wrote orders and sealed them with the King's ring (or name) we, also, operate in Jesus' name. This is not a magical phrase we tack on the end of prayers, but a powerful realization that we walk in His place and authority with His power of attorney.
So, today, on Veterans Day, thanks again to all who have (and do) serve in our armed forces, and to your families who share you with us. And, thank you, my brothers and sisters in the faith, for your fight, for your prayers, for your example, for your encouragement, for your carrying Christ's image and authority into the spiritual battle on behalf of our King. May His Kingdom continue to expand in every area you are given authority, and may His image (love, holiness, servanthood, power, wisdom, creativity, submission) be shown in you to a world that desperately needs to see it. You carry His name, His authority, His image, and His presence. Go and turn the world upside down! Like Esther, live for the season you are called for, from a place of intimacy with the King, walking in His authority, saving a people and defeating an enemy.
(Note: The picture is from my time in Panama when we were preparing for a raid on a walled home. I'm the silhouette in the middle with the shotgun barrel up in the air.)