When I think about a defining moment, I think about one of those crossroads of life type of decisions that can either make you or break you.  Most of us will face a few of those in our lifetime, where we need to make a decision or when a decision is forced upon us.  Those defining moments often deeply impact who we are, what we are becoming, and even the difference we want to make in this world. The good news is that we are not alone in our experiences. The Bible is full of people who came face to face with a defining moment and some prevailed, but many did not. 

Adam and Eve’s defining moment came when the Serpent tempted them to disobey God in the garden and eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and we all know how that worked out!  Cain’s defining moment came when his jealousy and resentment turned to rage and he killed his brother Abel.  Abraham’s defining moment came when God spoke to him and asked him to leave everything he knew to follow God into the unknown.  Moses faced several defining moments but one came as he was forced to overcome his fear, standing in front of Pharaoh saying, “Let my people go!”  The disciples of Jesus all experienced the same defining moment as Jesus invited them to follow Him. For me, like many of you, one of my defining moments was embracing Jesus as my Lord and Savior as a teenager and beginning to follow him.

We see examples of defining moments in the book of Esther. In chapters five and six we see defining moments that shaped the trajectory of the lives of three radically different people—Esther, King Xerxes and Haman.  Their life and stories will help us to recognize defining moments in our lives so that we can respond in such a way that blesses our lives, gives glory to God and ultimately builds God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Esther’s defining moment called for courage. The Jewish people were on the verge of genocide by the Persian Empire because of Haman who convinced the king into making a law to kill all Jews.  By royal law, no one was to approach the king uninvited, not even Esther, his wife. Historical records tell us that there was usually an attendant behind the throne of the king with a large ax and his job was to protect the king and kill anyone who came into the throne room uninvited.  At the time Esther could only trust that God had a plan for her and for her people and that God was inviting her to join him in his plan.

King Xerxes’ defining moment led to generosity and Haman’s defining moment led to his demise. Not all defining moments work out well for us do they?  Sometimes we prevail, but sometimes we fail.  Sometimes we obey God and sometimes we do not.  Haman’s defining moment centered on his selfish pride.  He was so enraged and prepared to kill a man. We see this all the time in our society today.  We are not good people; we are broken and sinful, needing healing and a savior.

We can use this story of Esther to help us when we face our defining moments too. These moments often come in the valleys, not in our mountain top experiences.  Think about the prophet Jonah whose defining moment came in the belly of a fish at the bottom of the ocean.  It was there, in the darkness, in the deep, that he cried out to God and committed to obey him.  I know people whose defining moment came with a cancer diagnosis, a divorce, and several other awful events of life where they were left to depend on God and nothing else. In these moments we need to pray and ask God to empower us with the Holy Spirit to make those decisions.  Here is the good news; Jesus is familiar with defining moments too.

Jesus had a defining moment when he cried out in the garden of Gethsemane, “If it is possible, can you take this cup of suffering away?”  God answered it was not possible, so Jesus, for the joy set before him, endured the cross scorning its shame and now sits at the right hand of the Father. God extended the cross of Jesus Christ to the whole world so that no one would have to die eternally without him, then on the third day Jesus rose from the grave guaranteeing our eternal life with him and for everyone who reaches out by faith.

Defining moments often confront us with an opportunity to act decisively for God and his purposes. One of our pastors said defining moments come when we recognize that someone has to do something!  It’s not enough to engage from the distance and when we do engage it will usually cost us something.  God doesn’t need us, but he definitely uses us for his kingdom work.  Maybe the thing you wish someone else would do is the very thing God is waiting for YOU to do.

Defining moments often require prayer, fasting and support from God’s people.   We need the help of God’s people to pray for us, be with us, to encourage and support us as we walk through these moments.  These moments often empower us to live for Jesus Christ. Like Esther, we too are faced with defining moments to do the right thing or to stand up for our beliefs, or step out to trust God. Each of us will face a moment when we will need to decide whether to live like the world or take our stand with Jesus and his kingdom.  Those decisions will either lead us to frustration and spiritual decline, or to an abundant life that can empower us to live for Jesus Christ.

Don’t waste a defining moment!

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