"Your Time Will Cost You"

Ps Jeremy Barkley

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14)?

One thing I realized as I began to grow in my walk with the Lord was that I needed to deconstruct much of the imagery of my childhood in relation to my theology. Much of the imagery in my mind’s eye played out like one of those felt boards that Sunday school teachers and Vacation Bible School directors would use to download Bible stories into my heart for the long run of a life lived for Christ. It was good, I just needed an upgrade in my perspective. Let me unpack this briefly. In my mind, Samson was just a Biblical version of He-Man. The only difference I saw was that Samson tended to be a knucklehead from time to time, and the Bible cemented the fact that haircuts were not in the Lord’s will for warriors of God. I imagined that Jesus was loved by everyone, and the Cross didn’t hurt one bit, because Jesus was like Superman, without the kryptonite. I was convinced that Goliath looked like Sloth from the Goonies, that David just followed the yellow brick road from the field of his anointing all the way to the throne room of the palace. 

Scriptures like “For I know the plans…” (Jer. 29:11) and “All things work together…” (Rom 8:28) carried a visual on par with “And they all lived happily ever after…” and “That’s all folks…” Ok, I’m exaggerating a tiny bit. 

The stories we read from the Word of God encourage our faith, and give us points of reference on how ordinary people in those days were used by God to carry out the most extraordinary assignments. The crucial factors I didn’t pick up on in my early formative years were that your anointing will cost you, and that your assignment could have an expiration date. I will never forget one of my mentors looking at me dead in the eye as the Lord began to unlock revelation of his constant presence in my life. He said “Jeremy, If you want to go with God, you will look like a fool to man.” I can also recall in later conversations sharing some of the impressions I was getting about what my calling was to look like, and how the sovereign pieces of God were showing we’re all just a set up of his divine plan from the very beginning. He said, “Jeremy, you can miss God’s timing and even parts of his plan when you allow yourself to hesitate in disobedience,” later adding, “God knows what He wants to accomplish on the earth. If you do not want to pay the price, He will find someone else who will.”

Those were pretty sobering thoughts, even truths, to my then cartoonish theological viewpoint of the Kingdom of Heaven. I recently read through Esther and was reminded of these truths yet again as I witnessed Esther being challenged by Mordecai (her cousin and adopted father) to use the position given to her by the Lord to ultimately bring freedom to a generation of Jews.  We should know that story, and the tension right? We definitely know that verse established in the text, “For a time such as this…” (v.14) That is a pretty romantic verse in all of Christianity isn’t it? It makes you feel like you cannot fail, even a little bit because I was created “for such a time as this…” The reality of this passage tells a different story. The truth is that each of “our times” is followed by an equals sign with a huge question mark at the end of it. We don’t know the results or outcomes of “our times,”  but if we know the narrative of scripture and the heart of the Father, we know it will cost you.  

Esther is faced with the exact two truths imparted to me by my mentor.  There is both a cost, and an expiration date on our divine assignment from heaven. Mordecai issues the charge to Esther again after she hesitates (v.14 “If you remain silent…”) in her obedience the first time. An entire generation of the chosen people of God seemingly hinge on Esther’s decision, or maybe not. According to Mordecai, Esther can be used by God in this moment or make way for someone else who will indeed pay the price. The price was a heavy one for Esther, she would risk her position, popularity, proximity to the King, and possibly her life if she were to end her silence. Mordecai, like any good father, reminds Esther that her position isn’t her own, and that it wasn’t given to her on her own efforts. We know that every good and perfect gift comes from heaven. (James 1:17) This is true even when the bill comes due, and as believers of Jesus Christ we know that the sum of that bill could in fact be, everything. 

What is the take away from all of this?

1. Silence isn’t always golden. I believe that one of the greatest disciplines we can learn is to know when to speak and when to remain silent. Some of our greatest testimonies are our silent ones, lived out by faith. But faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) How can they know unless they first hear?  Esther needed to make her heart known to the King in order for her anointing and position in the palace to take full effect. 

The Lord has divinely positioned you where you are for a reason. All of us have the choice to open our mouths and let the Holy Spirit fill them with His words for each circumstance. Many prophecies are never sown into the atmosphere because the sower was too fearful to throw the seed. Esther almost missed her moment. I’ll bet that she is now grateful to Mordecai for showing a challenge towards the soil of her heart in his.  

2. God’s timing is perfect. I believe that we all have a destination in our hearts for the places we believe the Lord desires to take us. Esther’s destination was only the setting of her assignment for the period of time she was ordained to live in. This is true for all of us. The prize is never the destination, it’s the impact of the journey and the timing of God to hatch what He has placed is us for the point of impact we are set aside to make. 

As followers of Jesus we have this gift. It’s called free will. We get to say “Yes!”(To His love, will, and position within our lives.)  What is God’s “Yes” that lives in the womb of your heart? In faith we say “Yes” and then we wait to let that “Yes” grow into its intended purpose.  We have a choice in the seasons of waiting to either abort mission, or prematurely induce our destiny outside of God’s timing. 

Take it from me, waiting is totally worth it. You do, indeed, get what you wait for. You also live with what you wait for. Esther’s moment had come, and with the encouragement of her father Mordecai she understood the timing was perfect as well. This was her time, and history tells the story of her “Yes!”

3. Glory isn’t free. I want to remind you that you were created for glory, and with glory inside of you. (2 Cor. 3: 28) The problem is that since we think we have glory in each of us, then we don’t have to pay for it. What does this mean? I see it like this. If I have a good hand of cards to play and I hold onto it thinking that I’ll never get another hand like this, and therefore end up losing, then what good was the hand of cards to me to begin with?

I believe that there are generations of Christians all over the world that are just sitting on their “glory hand.” They are afraid to step out. It could cost you if you play your glory hand right? It could cost you popularity, provision, friendships, even that position that you long to have in society. Truth is that the Kingdom isn’t like the earth. We play with an open hand. We receive and give so that we can therein receive more. We die to flesh so we can live. We go to the back of the line so that we can then be first in line. We exchange the cards in our hand that are temporary for a divine hand from Heaven that prepares us for eternity. It will cost you, maybe everything to live into the glory that God put in you for a time such as this, but glory isn’t free, grace is. I’ll never forget the words of a Pastor friend of mine from Colorado, “In order to be full, I must first be emptied.” Suffering is a part of our assignment church. We don’t by-pass pain on the road to glory, it’s the toll each of us pay for entry. 

Esther is now in the book of eternity for being humble enough to receive the charge of her father and friend Mordecai, and bold enough to live into the moment she was sent for by the Father in Heaven. Just like Esther we are positioned for impact, a “time such as this.” Your “Yes” may cost you everything, and/or it may lead to an open door that is the true purpose for your life. 

This is a season where we need to allow the Holy Spirit to redesign the framework that makes the houses of our hearts. Some of those theological constructs that God used in a prior season may be called to come down so that God can prepare the soil for what is next. You were created for a time such as this…allow Him to prepare you so you won’t miss it.

Jeremy Barkley
Associate / Youth Pastor