At first I was too shocked to do anything.
The salesclerk continued to mutter four-letter obscenities underneath her breath as she scanned my groceries. Her scowl furrowed further as she continued to ring up my supplies and snap at the assistant helping to bag. I could feel the Holy Spirit nudge me to take action. Ask if you can do anything to make her day better.
I was about to argue, justify why my silence was better suited, when the words Mordecai spoke to Esther centuries ago came to my mind: what if you're here for such a time as this?
The book of Esther reveals the courageous story of a young Jewish woman who stole the heart of a Persian king on account of her beauty and saved her people from genocide due to her valor. Esther was an orphan, raised by her cousin Mordecai who worked for the King. Once selected to become the new queen, Mordecai begged her not to reveal her national identity.
Meanwhile, Haman, who also worked for the King, hated Mordecai with every part of his body and tricked the King into signing a law decreeing all Jews are to be killed. In chapter four, a devastated Mordecai sends word to Esther telling her not to remain silent, for who knows whether she became queen for such a time as this.
Esther prayed and fasted for three days before appearing unannounced before the King, an act punishable by death. But the King extended mercy to her and when Esther later begged for the lives of her and her people, he listened. He condemned Haman to death instead. This day of deliverance is remembered in the holiday Purim, a day of feasting and rejoicing. This year Purim falls on the evening of February 22th to the evening of February 23th.
Although my question to the cranky employee probably wouldn't have resulted in a feast, maybe my small act of kindness would've resulted in her deliverance. Deliverance from the vice-like grip of grumpiness. Deliverance from a grief-ridden afternoon. Freedom from a fretful frame of mind. Freedom in knowing somebody cares.
I have a hunch most of us won't be called to marry royalty or to risk our lives to save others from genocide. Maybe our for such a time as this lies in the everyday moments, those spent in line at the grocery store or on the sidelines watching a soccer game or while greeting new faces during worship service. Maybe these everyday moments are opportunities to invite others into a brief respite of deliverance, a Purim of the heart. This act of loving others and bringing freedom isn't something to be practiced only once a year but each day, though March 7-8 is a great time to start.
How can you be more intentional about bringing Purim--moments of deliverance--to others in your everyday?
**Photo courtesy of: here