By April Sliwak, Executive Director
I’m super excited to be studying the women of the Bible this season in Her Life Speaks. These women each had a story and a life full of circumstances that are no different than ours today. These are women who were disobedient, faithful, prayerful, generous, beautiful, sexually abused, widowed, adopted, chosen, depressed and sick. God’s providence is among the stories that we read and we’re left with a picture of who God is, what he capable of doing, and her final legacy in that story.
My favorite story is of Queen Esther. I love her for so many reasons. But more importantly, I love her because of her willingness to abide in what God was calling her to do without her realizing it at the time. God used her circumstance, her gifts and her position to further his purpose.
Here is my edited version of the book for Esther. I highly encourage you to go and read it in its entirety. God is never mentioned once within the 9 chapters but his presence is ever present:
1. GOD IS IN CONTROL OF ALL EVENTS
God orchestrated the dismissal of Queen Vashti to make room for the teenage orphan, Esther; unaware that the events that were taking place in the kingdom were going to change her life and the Jewish people FOREVER.
2. GOD IS THE CREATOR
God gave Esther the gift of BEAUTY. God used beauty so that the king would fall in love with her and choose her to be Queen. God used beauty for HIS glory.
3. GOD GIVES FAVOR
God gave favor to Esther numerous times in the story to advance his purpose.
4. GOD HONORS PRAYERS AND FASTING
God honored Esther’s prayers and fast. The call to pray and fast shows Esther’s faith. Her act also shows her confidence, conviction and leadership because she is the one who suggests it to her guardian and cousin Mordecai. His response is the popular verse: “And who knows, but that you have come to your royal position for such time as this?” Esther believes in her passion for something and is willing to accept the risk of its outcome.
5. GOD IS THE PROTECTOR
God protects the brave Esther when she goes to visit the king unannounced.
6. GOD IS IN THE DETAILS. HE’S INTENTIONAL ABOUT EVERYTHING
God allows circumstances, like the king’s insomnia to promote Mordecai.
7. GOD’S PLAN IS FULFILLED
God orchestrated the opportunity for Esther to tell the king about Haman’s plot to annihilate the Jews and to tell the king that she is Jewish.
God uses her position for his purpose.
How can we relate to Esther’s story from 2400 years ago to our lives today? God used a young Jewish girl with beauty to change the world. She grew up without a mother. She grew up without her father.
Think about who you are and your upbringing; were you raised by a single parent, or a guardian? Were you adopted, like Esther? Were your parents divorced? Does your birth order make you the way you are? What is your age now, your race, where you grew up? What were your experiences? What were your circumstances?
Think about your gifts; leadership, servanthood, speaking, writing, faith, creativity, kindness, giving monetarily, task oriented, detail oriented, gentleness? How can God use your circumstances and your gifts to fulfill his purpose?
Ephesians 1:4 & 11 says this: “God chose us before the foundation of the world… having predestined us to adoption… being predestined us according to the purpose of Him who makes everything work out according to his plan.” This was true of Esther. It’s true of us.
God is limitless. He can use any event in your life to advance his plan. Do you have a vision for something that will bless, encourage or further the kingdom work?
Right now, you might be contemplating a vision. What’s holding you back? If you removed that very thing that hinders you, what would your vision look like? Envision that for a moment…
Ten years ago, when God gave me the vision: “older women share their stories with younger women”, I executed our first retreat sharing testimonies. I didn’t know then that I was IN God’s plan at the time. But 10 years later God shows us the purpose of the vision: Her Life Speaks!
As believers, God calls us to his plan and purpose. This is your time. Your time in history to make a difference. It can be an act of kindness, forgiveness, or to serve and volunteer, or cast a vision and LEAD!
God’s providence is here. Now. It’s always here. In every circumstance.
On October 20 we will be having a workshop. We’re going to talk more about what your purpose and we’re going to make our own personal mission statement. Won’t you join us?
FOR SUCH A TIME IS THIS YOUR TIME!
Are you contemplating a vision now? I’d love to hear about it!
By, Noelle Rhodes
I became friends with Sharon in my late twenties. I was living in Northern Ireland as a missionary at that time and Sharon took me under her wing. She was a spunky, full of life Northern Irish woman who never stood still while she talked to you. She had so much joy pulsing through her veins that she would nearly jog in place while you had a conversation.
Sharon would often invite me to her house for something that she called a "cuppa”. A “cuppa” is simply a cup of tea often served with a plate of cookies. When I would arrive at Sharon’s home for a “cuppa”, she would always greet me with the most vivacious welcome. Sharon had a way of making you feel as though you were the one she had been waiting for. She would swing open the door and screech with glee,
“It’s Noelle! Noelle is here,” she would say in her Northern Irish accent, “come on in! I have been waiting for you!”.
After a big hug, she would take me by the hand and lead me to her kitchen which was tucked at the back of her house. It was then she would order me to “take a seat at the table” which was always strewn with her children’s school work and plates of half eaten toast. With one swoop of her arm, Sharon would slide the toast and school work to one side of her table and say,
“There. I cleared a spot for you.”
As I would settle into a seat, she would put the kettle on, pour the milk into a tiny jug and pick out a special mug just for me to use. She did not own matching mugs.
When the tea had brewed, she would pour it into the carefully chosen mug and walk it over to me - with a jug of milk in the other hand. She'd place my “cuppa” before me and as she slide a plate of biscuits towards my way she'd ask….
“Now, Noelle, What is your story?”
She would ask me this question nearly every time I found myself at her table. What she meant when she asked me this was,
“Tell me what is happening in your life. What you are most excited about? What is keep you up at night? What is going in your world?”
As I sipped tea, I would pour my heart to her… because she made room at her table for me to do so. Sharon would listen to me talk about what I was worried about...and what I was looking forward to… she allowed me to dream and plan for the future… and she even let me process the past. This was at a time in my life when I felt very lost in a very big world. I felt incredibly inadequate, anxious, and alone but not at her table.
It never failed that at some point in my story, she would stop me and say, “Ha! You just reminded me of something I read in the Bible today. Here let me tell you.”
Sharon would jump and grab her Bible and journal. Without hesitation, she would share with me what God had spoken to her and what she believed God was saying to me too.
“Look at that!” she would say, “God is speaking to your story right now!”
Somewhere between the first cup of tea and the third, I would realize at Sharon’s table that I had a story.
I had a story that God was in.
I had a story God was speaking through.
I had a story God was speaking to.
And I had a story someone wanted to hear.
I want to be a Sharon.
I want to clear a space and make some room for women in their twenties and early thirties tell their stories and hear what God has to say to them in the midst of their stories. This is why I am so excited to be apart of the new ministry of Her Life Speaks, “The Table”, a small group bible study for women 21-31 years old!
A table is not just a place where you can belong… a table is place where you can become who you are meant to be.
I can't wait to meet you at The Table.
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.