IVP - Online Pulpit - It Just So Happens

December 1, 2006

It Just So Happens

Much of pastoral work is ho-hum: Someone comes into your office looking for a book from the library; a church leader stops by to share an article that has touched her heart; an old saint is in the hospital, so you make a visit. ho-hum. Or is it?

In Out of the Saltshaker, Becky Pippert tells the remarkable story of a hairdresser named Meg. When Meg’s brother heard Becky speak ten years earlier, he prayed that someone like Becky would befriend Meg and lead her to Christ. Years later, it just so happened that a neighbor recommended a particular salon to Becky, and the day Becky walked in to that salon, it just so happened that Meg was the only available stylist. They developed a friendship, and Meg came to know the Lord! In the ho-hum of everyday pastoral ministry, we need to see all that “just happens” as the sovereign hand of God at work.

The story of Esther also demonstrates God’s “it just so happens” way of working in the world. Queen Vashti disobeys Persian king Ahasuerus and is banished from his presence. To replace Vashti, the king gathers beautiful young virgin—including Esther, a Jew—from throughout his realm. Esther’s cousin Mordecai instructs her not to tell anyone that she is Jewish. The eunuch in charge of the king’s harem prefers Esther over all the other women, and it just so happens that the king favors her too, making her Queen. In the meantime, Mordecai overhears a plot against the king and informs Esther, who alerts the king.

Haman, a recently promoted member of Ahasuerus’s court, insists that everyone bow before him, but Mordecai refuses. The engraged Haman plots to have Mordecai and all Jews in the kingdom killed, and the king agrees. Mordecai learns of the plot, and hoping to save his people, he asks Esther to tell the king that she is Jewish. Esther balks, for it could mean her immediate death. Mordecai declares to her that perhaps it is “for such a time as this” that she has been brought to the palace. Esther acquiesces but insists that all Jews of the kingdom fast and pray along with her. And it just so happens that when Esther approaches the king’s court, he receives her and grants her request, which is that the king and Haman come to a banquet she is preparing for the next day.

Meanwhile, still seething with rage, Haman builds a gallows on which to kill Mordecai.

That night, Ahasuerus couldn’t sleep. To pass time, he asks a servant read to him from the records of noble deeds. It just so happens the servant reads about Mordecai’s discovery of the plot against the king. Ahasuerus determines to honor this noble deed and consults Haman, who believes it is he whom the king wishes to honor. Haman describes all the honors and privileges that rightfully befits a man of his own greatness. The king thanks him for such wise advice and instructs Haman to do for Mordecai all that he has recommended.

The next day at the banquet, Haman’s plot is exposed and the king hangs Haman on the very gallows Haman had built to hang Mordecai. God’s people were spared.

So remember, the ho-hum activities of pastoral ministry might be the “it just so happens” of God’s sovereign hand at work. The next time a person just happens by, take a good look, stop to reflect, say a prayer. It just so happens God is constantly at work in ordinary people and ordinary events.

Posted by Candie Blankman at December 1, 2006 8:57 AM Bookmark and Share

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