We’ve all had the experience of being out of position—the wrong lane in congested traffic, in the checkout line behind someone whose gift card has brought the system down, or in a job that doesn’t match our skill set. It’s not a good place to be and we try to get out as quickly as possible.
We can also be out of position spiritually when we fail to trustingly humble ourselves before God. In the book of Esther, Haman is badly out of position due to his hatred of Esther’s cousin, Mordecai (chapter 3), as well as his pride (chapter 6). Living out of position not only brings him to ruin, but it also costs him his life.
Though nowhere to the degree of Haman, Esther finds herself temporarily out of position. When she learns about the edict to kill all the Jewish people living in Persia and Mordecai tells her she must go before the king, she balks at the request and sends back a message saying that such an action would put her life in danger. To her credit, she is willing to rethink the matter and ends up interceding for her people. She tells Mordecai she will go before the king and “If I perish, I perish” (4:16). It’s not that she no longer cares about her life—it’s just that she’s now gained a different perspective by putting her life back into the hands of the One who loves her more than she loved herself.
In making this decision, Esther has placed herself in the position of power. We thought as Queen of the Persian Empire she was already in such a position, but it’s a mistake to see it that way. Before she rethought her decision, Esther was looking to her own resources and strategies and filled with worry. Then she reconsidered her situation, made the course correction, and placed herself in the care of God. She went from a place of impotence and anxiety to the place of power and peace.
Paul did the same thing regarding his thorn in the flesh. He prayed three times for God to remove it. God told him His grace was sufficient and His power was made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul changed his thinking and said he would “boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses.” Like Esther, his change of attitude was a change of position and put him in a powerful place. He found ability in his vulnerability and strength in his dependency.
That same Paul would write:
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (Romans 12:3)
Some many of our problems come from seeing ourselves (rather than God) as the leading character in our story. There’s a real ability in the humility Paul is speaking about that he and Esther practiced. It’s the power John spoke about when he said, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30).
Let’s quit getting in our own way by getting in God’s way. Let’s live with humility and put ourselves in the position of true power.