In the film Mission: Impossible Tom Cruise’s character, Nathan Hunt, must navigate a litany of perilous challenges to complete assignments that save lives and uphold justice. The severity of his circumstances, however, always makes success an unlikely outcome. Death seems far more probable. Despite the odds, Hunt always accepts the challenge and true to Hollywood form always manages to complete the mission in some spectacular, though thoroughly unrealistic, way.
Did you know that Scripture recounts the details of a real-life Mission: Impossible from twenty-five hundred years ago? The plot unfolds in Susa, the winter capital of the Persian Empire, where King Xerxes reigned. After deposing his wife, Queen Vashti, for an act of brazen disloyalty, the king holds a contest to find a suitable replacement and ultimately selects a young Jewish maiden named Esther, who captivates his heart.
The excitement surrounding her ascension to the throne, however, eventually subsides and gives way to anxiety and horror when Esther learns of a plan to slaughter every Jew in the Persian Empire. Her uncle Mordecai, who had adopted her as a child and raised her as a daughter, encourages her to intervene and ask the king to revoke the decree. She resists, explaining that anyone who approaches the king uninvited is subject to death. She wants to help her people but the fear of death paralyzes her.
In response, Mordecai issues a stinging rebuke. “Don’t think for a minute that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other source, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows, perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14, NLT).
His message emphasizes two points. First, God will accomplish His plan with or without her. She is uniquely positioned to serve as God’s agent to rescue the Jews but will suffer severe consequences if she acts selfishly instead.
Second, it is likely that God coordinated her selection as queen for this exact moment, so she could appeal to the king directly and preserve thousands of Jewish lives. Mordecai challenges her to recalibrate her thinking; to recognize that God blessed her so she could bless others – not so she could pamper herself with a lifestyle of luxury.
Similarly, God has placed each of us in a position to serve as His agents to those around us. He has blessed us with wealth, influence, intellect, and diligence. But as with Esther, those blessings represent an opportunity to bless, serve, and help others. Like Esther we may be tempted to rationalize why those blessings are primarily for our benefit.
But we must resist that perspective. Like Esther we must step out in faith and recognize that God has put us in our current position for such a time as this and move forward with bold confidence that God will accomplish His will through us. We must set aside our personal interests and diligently seek the Lord’s guidance on how He would have us use the gifts, talents, and blessings He has bestowed on us. More often than not that will involve sacrifice, service, and selflessness. It may seem like Mission Impossible but with God all things are possible.