“Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” – Mordecai to Esther
I’ve always loved this passage from the book of Esther. I appreciate Mordecai’s honesty, his lack of dogmatism, his “Who knows?” and his “Perhaps?” But most of all I’m drawn to the idea of “Such a time as this….”
Time is an interesting phenomenon. In our “Western mindset” we are so used to watching time, planning around it, measuring it with “precise” instruments, and variously attempting to hem it in. We do this to the extent that most of us go from day-to-day believing that time is everything our almanacs, calendars, clocks, watches, computers, cars, phones, tablets, stoves, microwaves, televisions, DVDs, and other digital devices constantly tell us.
The Earth rotates on its axis; the planets revolve around our sun, the entire solar system moves through space; the Milky Way – of which our set of sun and planets is a part – not only rotates around its own center, but turns out to be only one of many galaxies in our “local” region of the Virgo Supercluster.
Time as measured by months, days, hours, minutes and seconds is a fixed fraction of the movement of our planet in relation to our sun. The properties of time, then, are subject to the behavior and the relative movements of objects that careen through space at vast speeds. Or do they? Because even “speed” is a relative understanding, dependent on time and fixed points for its calculation.
We’ve all used expressions such as “time flies,” “I don’t know where the time went,” “I thought it would never be over,” or that was the longest three hours of my life!” Or how about the idea that time appears to speed up the older we get?
Fact is, time is seldom as neatly packaged and manageable as the handy calendar on your iPhone would suggest.
ABOUT FACE: Here’s a story, and in sharing it I’m going to contradict a principle I’ve often advanced in my own writing: Back in the mid 1980′s, when Rebekah and I were raising small children and leading a huge group of young adults at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Pensacola, we invited a guest speaker to talk about “Time Management.”
The speaker made a lot of people uncomfortable by insisting that we each have the same 24-hours available on a daily basis, and that what we do with that time is 100% our personal choice. We choose to work long hours rather than spend more family time; we choose to live in a smaller house, or live a less costly life-style in order to free up more time for priorities other than work; we choose soccer over church, family-game-night over television, a weekend retreat over 12-hours of yard-work.
We weigh the balance, in other words, and we apportion each set of 60-minute intervals according to the values we choose to practice.
NOT SO SIMPLE: Mostly, I still agree with the ideas that our time-management speaker put forward. But I don’t agree any more that allotments of time are as interchangeable as she suggested. Time is not a discrete, easily managed, linear entity. Time rushes forward, headlong; time accelerates and decelerates; time stands still; sometimes, time does not exist at all.
And what does this have to do with the passage from Esther I love so much? Well, for me at least, every time I come across Mordecai’s words, “Perhaps…. for just such a time as this… who knows…” then I have to wonder, and I have to ask myself what God has in mind for me in just such a time as today?
“Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”