Thursday, October 29, 2009

For Such a Time As This

There is something that has always bothered me about the world of sports. When an 18-year old kid stands at the free throw line in a key moment of a college basketball game, fans are allowed to scream their heads off. Onlookers, band members and cheerleaders can do all manner of distracting motions behind the basket. One particular team even has a very overweight fan who specializes in his shirtless gyrations to distract the opposing free thrower. But in golf, when a multimillionaire professional stands ready to put in his ball, there must be absolute silence. Even the TV announcers whisper. Does this seem unjust to anyone else?

In the world of sports, there are many defining moments. Fourth and goal. Match point. The final attempt. Bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, full count. An athlete's performance in these moments of truth defines how he or she will be judged for years to come. Bill Buckner had a long and distinguished baseball career, but today most fans only know him as the guy who let a ball roll between his legs in the sixth game of the 1986 World Series. On the other hand, Timmy Smith's pro football career was brief and rather uneventful, except for the night he set a Super Bowl record for rushing in 1988. As long as he lives, there will be Washington Redskin fans willing to buy him dinner.

But those are just games. In real life, the defining moments are much more important. They also come with less advance notice. There is no announcer standing by, solemnly intoning, "It all comes down to this..." We simply live our lives, and suddenly out of the clear blue sky, we find ourselves face to face with a life-changing decision, an eternally significant opportunity, or a seductive temptation. How will we respond in the moment of truth?

Esther faced just such a moment. She didn't seem qualified to be the savior of an entire race of people. Yet there she stood, with the weight of the world on her narrow shoulders. This Sunday, we'll find out how she responded as we look at Esther 4. And we'll discuss the characteristics you and I need to work on in anticipation of those key moments in our own lives.

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