This year Ready for the Road Ahead is taking on a new direction. It is one that follows the grand theme of sight in all aspects which runs throughout Scripture. My weekly writings will be excerpts from a book of the same name which should be published (Lord willing) later this year.
When I was a little girl the only thing I liked about going to the dentist’s office were the magazines which he had in the waiting room. At the back of every issue was a “Hidden Picture” puzzle. These graphic illustrations depicted a scene which at first glance seemed to be a fairly ordinary picture. But hidden within those scenes were a collection of objects that were cleverly blended into the picture such as a toothbrush, a flower or a hammer. A pictoral list would be posted underneath the picture and it was fun to search for the hidden items by studying the list and then carefully looking at every inch of that picture! I think those puzzles may have developed my photographic eye long before I even picked up a camera simply by making me take a long look at the picture before me. Sometimes seeing God at work in our lives is like searching for those hidden pictures. He is hidden in the picture of our life and we have to look very carefully to find Him.
Seeing God at work in the events of the Book of Esther is one of the Bible’s greatest hidden pictures. Many have noted that it hardly contains anything “religious” at all with the exception of fasting (Est. 4:15-17). On the other hand the “Hidden God” of Esther also seems deliberate. Esther falls in the literary genre of wisdom literature which teaches a spiritual truth through parables, repetition, word patterns and you guessed it, hidden pictures in the words! Such is the case in Esther’s poetic invitation asking the king and Haman to a luncheon in her palatial suite (Est. 5:8). Sadly you cannot see it in English, but in Hebrew when the lines of Esther’s request are lined up properly one can easily see the four Hebrew letters that compose the name Yahweh. It’s literary hint that God is at work in the Persian Empire in spite of the evil intentions of Haman. When Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews is discovered by Mordecai, he literally mourns over the coming destruction of the Jewish people outside the palace gate. The Persian Court looked down upon any display of negative emotions within the palace, but word reaches Esther that Mordecai is putting on quite a display. A dialogue ensues between the two which ends with a challenge from Mordecai which also contains a guarded reference to the Lord (Est. 4:1-13). Mordecai’s use of “another place” is used at other times and in other sources to attribute something to a Divine Being (Est. 4:1-13).
I would like to say I’ve mastered the ability to see with eyes of faith in any given situation. I would also like to say there is a formula, a quick “how to” process that will enable you to see as some of those aforementioned heroes saw their situations. But I can’t. Just as it takes time to develop the ability to see pictures in uncommon or less than perfect situations, it takes time to recognize when God is working in the background to bring about His prefect will (Phil. 4:11-13).
I’m not sure who first discovered the Great Horned Owl and her nest in the Sycamore tree. I certainly wouldn’t have looked for an owl nest in a tree by a parking lot but it when you looked at the tree it was obvious why it was chosen. Someone really knew what to look for because Mrs. O really blended in with the tree bark. When it comes to my faith I’d like to be that kind of tracker. I’d like to be able to look at issues and circumstances in my life and say, “Oh, that’s the Lord doing this,” or, “That’s the Lord doing that”. But more often than not I struggle to see what God is doing until well after the event is over. For those tracking the work of God in the days of Esther it may have seemed to be a tricky job for a while. He appeared to be hidden from view in everything just like His name is hidden in Esther’s book. Haman and his supporters appeared to have the upper hand. They even manipulated the king into making a disastrous decree against the Jewish people (Est. 3:7-15). However God had the component of deliverance from that decree hidden away in the king’s harem (of all places!) and in His perfect timing deliverance was attained (Est. 8:1-17). Our lives will always seem to be filled with hidden pictures, those places where God is at work but we can’t see Him. Our faith will be stretched as we cling to “the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). But like those picture puzzles in the magazines at the dentist’s office, the challenge of discovering where He is at work is a fun exercise in learning to see.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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