Around my hometown, several local farms create pathways throughout their corn fields to form a maze during the fall season. Some are more elaborate than others, but each of the winding and looping routes prove faithful to swallow you amongst the tall stalks with no clear vision of the final destination. A couple of years ago, my life group went on a trip to a local farm with the intention of picking some apples. As we walked from our parked car toward the orchard, we noticed a corn maze across the road.
“Why don’t we run through real quick?” We thought. “It won’t take too long, right?”
Wrong. We got lost.
Each turn we took brought us back to where we just were and no closer to our end goal. After forty-five minutes of running around in circles, a few members of our group gave up. Some kept circling while others ditched the pathways and tried plowing through the stalks in what they thought was a straight line to get out of the maze. I remember standing in the maze wondering why I even began in the first place.
Life is like a corn maze. It is easy to get lost in the uncertainty we may find ourselves in. Which is the right way to go? Which path would lead home? And which would lead to more confusion? These feelings of uncertainty, fear, and being lost can weigh over our souls like a dark cloud, masking the road ahead.
Enter the tension between fear and faith. On one side rests an uncertain future. On the other there is the Father—all-knowing, loving, and faithful to keep his promises.
“This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”Psalm 18:30
The choice seems obvious, does it not? Unfortunately, that is easier said than done, especially when the Lord seems distant.
Fear can easily become the leading character in your life if left unchecked. It will urge you toward panic, stress, and anxiety until that is your first response to the storms and uncertain times of life. This is not the life the Lord has called us to. He is not the author of fear, but the Prince of Peace.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”Psalm 46:10
The Lord calls us to be still, to quiet our hearts, and to realign them in faith to his character and his faithfulness. Faith is “ the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,”(Hebrews 11:1) and it is not easy. It requires us to place everything—situations, circumstances, finances, children, you name it—in the hands of the Father. He calls us to turn against every survival instinct our sinful human nature has to remain in control and to trust him.
But how do we do that?
There are several people throughout the Bible and history that have taken great steps of faith with the Lord, thus furthering his kingdom by placing their trust in him. One that stands out to me is the account of Esther. Esther demonstrates her faith in an incredible way. Did you know that the Lord is never mentioned in the entire book of Esther? He does not talk to Esther through a burning bush like Moses or through the prophets like Daniel and Jeremiah. However, the absence of his name and his voice does not remove the presence of the Lord. Rather, it opens our eyes to look for his activity in the lives of his people. This is exactly what we see in her account.
The story contains four major characters: Esther (or Hadassah in Hebrew), her cousin Mordecai who took her in as his own after her parents died, King Ahasuerus of Persia, and Haman who became a chief royal advisor. During the early years of his reign, King Ashersus makes a poor decision while drunk and casts out his queen. Once sober, the king realizes his mistake and calls upon his officials to fix the problem.
“Then the king’s young men who attended him said, ‘Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given to them. And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.’”Esther 2:2-4
It is through a foolish mistake that Esther is brought into the king’s royal court as a potential bride. Here we see Esther removed from her family and her home to venture into the unknown. She is carried through a year-long process of beauty treatments to meet a king and potentially become his bride. However, instead of grumbling or complaining, Esther is the picture of grace. She wins the hearts of everyone she comes into contact with, not just with her kindness, but with her wisdom and listening heart.
“When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”Esther 2:15-17
It is no wonder why the king fell in love. Despite her circumstance, Esther chose joy and gained a seat of prominence across the land as a result. This is where the Lord would use her.
Life Amongst the Uncertainties
When is a time in your life where you had no idea what the Lord was doing? Much like the corn maze, have you found yourself lost, confused, and questioning which way to go? It is important to note that the Lord is working on his timeline. What may seem like important information to us now in our circumstance actually is not yet important. I am sure that Esther had these questions as well. Why was she elevated to such a position? Out of all the girls in the land, why did the king choose her? It is in the completion of the story that we find the answer for Esther.
The king has now made Haman to be in power of all of his officials and decreed that all in the land must bow to show their respect to him. Mordecai, the cousin of Esther, refused on several occasions to do so. This angered Haman greatly but instead of exacting his revenge on Mordecai alone, he set a plan in motion to annihilate the whole population of Jews living across Persia. With some smooth words, Haman in no time convinces the King that this is a good plan. The king signs the decree and a date is set for the Jews to be killed.
This was devastating news for the Jews, but their God had not abandoned them. Mordecai sends word to Esther pleading with her to go and beg for grace from the king. However, to go into the king’s quarters unannounced meant death, unless he bestows the golden ceptor. Esther’s first thought was that of confusion and denial. How is she meant to change the king’s mind? Mordecai’s response should open our eyes to see just how good our Lord is.
“Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”Esther 4:13-14, emphasis mine
For such a time as this . . . The Lord knew that the Jews would be taken to Persia. He knew that King Ashersus would come into control and appoint Haman. He knew the home that Esther was to be raised in and the faith that was taught to her.
In the same way, the Lord knows every minute of your story. From your fears, questions and doubts to your greatest achievements and victories. Though it may seem like the Lord is nowhere to be seen, He has not abandoned you. Instead, it is in these times of uncertainty, when the road is not visible yet, that the Lord calls us to step out in faith and to place our everything in his loving arms.
That is exactly what Esther does. First she seeks counsel from the Lord in prayer to align herself to his will, then she delivers this command:
“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”Esther 4:16, emphasis mine
Esther is placing her trust completely in the Lord for the salvation of her people—even to the point of death—yet she is at peace with whatever outcome occurs because she believes the Lord is good and faithful to his people. I find that I fear the most when I think I know what is the best for me. That is not the case and how could it be? The Lord—who knows all, who lovingly knitted me together for his glory, who “leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3)—should be the one I turn to in times of turmoil and distress, not my broken self.
That is the grace and mystery of the gospel: The Lord uses broken people, even evil people like Haman, to do glorious work for his kingdom and name’s sake. In the same manner, he is faithful to bring peace,clarity, and salvation to those that call on his name. He never leaves his children alone, even if we can not feel or see him.
This week, spend some time committing a few verses to memory that remind you who God is in times of uncertainty.
When we find ourselves stuck in the “corn maze” of life, let us be still for a moment and remember our Father. Let us sit in his presence and realign ourselves with his timing and his will. It is when we empty ourselves of everything that we will gain true unexplainable peace.
Abigail Nelson currently calls the rocky coast of Maine home. She recently graduated from college where she gained experience writing for several Maine publications. Besides writing, Abigail loves foreign languages, painting, and photography. She desires to use these passions for the furthering of Christ's kingdom and is excited to see how the Lord will use her next.