For Such a Time As This: Living in quarantine, but not in exile.
By Esther C. Baird, Camp mom and Author
(Editor’s Note: Please don’t leave the blog without clicking through Esther’s new devotional book on Kindle, free from Amazon)
We’re studying the books of Ruth and Esther in our women’s Bible studies at church (and now virtually). It’s been encouraging to step back and see the common themes running through both books. Namely, God is in control and has a plan that is far greater than we can understand or recognize in the day-to-day moments of life. You know, just in case your life feels a little out of control right now.
In the case of Ruth, she was a pagan widow who was welcomed into the family of God, during the time of the Judges—not a time anyone would ever describe as Israel’s golden era. It was a violent, dark time, full of people who turned away from God. Yet God, in His divine plan and providence, guided this young widow into His land, to His people, and showed her, and all of us, what redemption looks like.
In the case of Esther, in many ways she was the opposite, a young Jewish girl living in exile in Persia who found herself in the King’s house as his Queen. Unlike Ruth, she had access and power and status, and yet she too was living on the razor’s edge of survival, as a plot to kill the Jews was being hatched right in the King’s courts. But God, in His divine plan and providence, guided this young girl into the very seat of power and used her to save His people and to show us how He saves us too. You see, we are in exile in our own land of darkness, like Ruth in her pagan homeland, or Esther in the king’s court—until God calls us into His land and shows us the plan He had all along.
That plan includes this virus and this quarantine and all your cancelled plans and schooling and jobs and your normal way of life. This plan even includes homeschooling, when you swore you would never do that, or doing puzzles when you hate them more than almost anything. (But for real, somebody please come save me from our terrible 1,000 piece Llama puzzle). We are living in uncertain times, perhaps even dark times, but we are not living in exile. We may be separated from one another physically, we may be in weird locations, or doing new things we never dreamed of, but we are not in exile. If we follow Jesus, we are citizens of God’s kingdom and we can rest in the certainty that He has a plan that is so much bigger than we can even imagine. Just like He had for Ruth and for Esther.
I saw this personally when I was working on my second book. It’s about life’s big questions such as, ‘What is my life about?’ or, ‘What do I do when bad things happen to my family or to me?’ or, ‘How can I feel safe?’. The answer, I argue, can be found in God’s name. Specifically in the ‘I AM’ statements that Jesus makes in the gospel of John, and, I argue, in the Old Testament.
I struggled to complete my final draft; it was tedious and exhausting and anything but smooth. Many times I thought I should quit and tackle it in the summer (or dump it into the nearest mud puddle). But through the encouragement of family, prayer groups at church, and a sense that God wanted me to keep at it, I finished. Then suddenly, last week, as the virus began to creep into our schools and churches and homes, I received a note saying the book was available on Amazon and I could offer it for FREE for five days! YAY! Back in November and December, I couldn’t see what the rush was to finish my book by March. What was the point? But God knew the world we were about to enter come March. And now, I am able to offer it for free to anyone who has extra time to read books (so basically everyone). My prayer is that God can encourage anyone who has big questions right now, (again, basically all of us) through the answers that are found in His name.
God had a plan, including this tiny way that I could be a part of pointing people to Him during the storm we are all living in. This coronavirus was a shock to the world, but not to God. Know that you are not in exile (even if homeschooling is not your thing and you feel a million miles away from your friends). You have a role to play in this corona-world and it starts by following God—knowing that His name, His plan, and His Kingdom are the only true and certain things. God calls us to trust Him . . . for such a time as this.
Esther Baird (pictured with her family on last year’s spring break, Les, Abby on left (MROer) and Riley on right (Deer Runner) is the Director of Women’s Ministries at her church north of Boston, and a columnist in her local newspaper. Combined her girls have attended camp for 11 summers! The Kindle version of her new devotional book, Echos of I AM: Life’s Big Questions Answered in God’s Great Name, is available on Amazon for free from Friday, March 20th-Tuesday, March 24th. Her first book is also available on Amazon, Exodus to Advent: God’s Christmas plan for you and for me. Her website is: www.estherbaird.com