One of the most fascinating patterns in nature is that of the annual migration of animals from one habitat to another. Biologists who have observed these patterns comment that birds, for example, will overfeed for the long journey ahead. Once in flight their route is direct. They don’t zig-zag. They eat when they have to, but that’s it. It’s the same for other animals: a direct route to their winter habitat or back to their summer surroundings. One author commented that you could say they are driven by a larger sense of purpose.
Having a sense of purpose changes our lives. It changes the way we do things. It changes the plans we make – and don’t make. It determines the things we will give our time to. And it cuts things out of our schedule. Purpose is a powerful thing.
Yet so many, even Christians, are not sure of what their purpose is in life.
Queen Esther discovered her purpose in life as a result of a set of circumstances that threatened the future of her own people.
She had become queen and found that she was the person closest to the man, King Xerxes, who could save her people.
But she was no heroine. In fact she was a reluctant heroine. Very reluctant. She knew that attempting to influence the king meant taking her life in her hands. Her cousin Mordecai had to persuade her that she had come to royal position for such a time as this.
Queen Esther discovered her for. She discovered her purpose. And she acted with courage and disaster was averted.
Discovering your purpose might not be as straightforward for you as it was for Esther. However the Esther story gives us some pointers as to what our purpose might look like.
We know that each of us is called to be an influence for Christ in our world. What that looks like might be different in each case.The end result,however, is the same for all of us: being a witness.
How do we fine tune that general calling that we all have into something a little more focused?
Firstly, there are providential factors that determine our purpose.
Esther came into young adulthood at a time of upheaval in the family of the Persian King. She had no control over that. It was the crisis connected with the former queen Vashti (2.1-4) that opened the door for Esther to go to the palace.
Esther was considered beautiful enough to be a potential queen for King Xerxes. Her physical appearance was given to her by God (2.7).
These factors helped shape her purpose, though at the time she was unaware of that and had no control over those factors.
There are aspects of our lives over which we have no control, yet they are part of God’s purpose. Those aspects are wrapped up in the mystery of providence. Paul sums this up in Romans 11.34-35:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?’
Secondly, there are people factors that help us to discover – and fulfil – our purpose.
Mordecai (2.7,8; 4) was a combination of adoptive parent, mentor and coach for Esther. He looked after her when she became an orphan. He advised her on how she should conduct herself in the palace. He helped her find the courage to go to the King.
Hegai (2.8,15) was another person God provided for Esther. He helped to guide her through the protocols of life in the harem and advised her on how to prepare for her audience with the King.
And then there was Hathach (4.5-9). Hathach played a crucial role as the messenger who kept the line of communication open between Esther and Mordecai.
God provides people who help us both discover and fulfil our purpose.
Finally, there are personal factors that help us to discover and fulfil our purpose.
Esther had to win the favour of various people at various times (2.9,15,17). God was certainly with her, but at the same time she had to develop people skills. Good manners are no substitute for the anointing, but you will never win the favour of people if you have anointing without good manners!
Esther also had to find a reserve of courage and determination that perhaps she never realised she had. If you are going to find and fulfil your purpose, you will need courage and determination.
Esther came to royal position for such a time as this. She discovered what her royal position was for. We have been given royal position in Christ. We have been made sons and daughters of the King for a purpose. With the help of the Holy Spirit and some guidelines from Esther’s story, we can discover our for.