By Jennifer Barten

During Miss Kansas week, I had the opportunity to meet the CEO of the Miss America Organization and hear him speak twice. At each speaking event he said something that stuck with me.

During one speaking event, he met with Miss Kansas contestants and board members. At that time he told us to make two list. One with everything we like about ourselves and a second list with things we would like to improve about ourselves. He said to be brutally honest because no one would ever see this list but us. He then told us to pick one thing to work on improving from the side where we want to improve and once we feel that we have accomplished that starts on another item and that eventually we would become the person we want to be.

The other speaking event was on Thursday evening, which was just two days after my interview for this job. Many of you were at the galla where he spoke and got a little longer winded than needed. The one thing that stuck with me during his time speaking was when he spoke about how he became the CEO of the Miss America Organization. When he was asked, he was going to turn it down until his wife quoted the book of Ester asking him ‘what if you are here for such a time as this?’

As I said at the time I was two days past my interview for my current position here. I was obsessing over each question asked, how I answered the question and what I should have said.

The question I was just sure I screwed up the worst was someone had asked what part of the job I thought I would have the most issues with. I don’t even remember what I said but after I answered Alan then said ‘so you won’t have issues preaching on Sunday if Steve is ever gone?’ When Alan said that I said something about well I’m sure I can but I have nothing to say the congregation doesn’t already know. You always do a great job Alan. Alan then talked about ANTS, which is an acronym for Automatic Negative Thoughts. Him giving me that talk during my interview, convinced me later that I said the exact wrong thing and that I wouldn’t get the job.

Going into the interview, even though I was nervous and a little scared about it, I was pretty sure it was where God wanted me. I was sure enough that I had turned down another job just days before that I was more qualified for and was in my field.

After the interview though, as I said I let the negative thoughts work through me and the longer I waited for an answer, the more nervous I got.

On Thursday night though, hearing the CEO talk and him quoting Esters uncle, I knew if offered the job, my time was now.

Since that Thursday night in the Dennis Lesh Sports Arena, I have heard the verse said many times, in many different situations and I have realized God is telling me my time wasn’t just then to take the job but that my time is NOW. Daily. As is yours. It is our time to be a better friend or family member, to be a volunteer, to step out of our comfort zone and do whatever it is God is calling us to do now.

For those of you who don’t know the story of Esther, it is unknown who wrote it though, many believe Esther’s uncle, Mordici wrote it around 470 B.C.

Ester became queen to Xerxes of Persia in 464 B.C. after Xerxes has his first wife banished. Missing his wife, it is decided that a beauty contest, of sorts, will take place.

Esther, who was raised by her uncle had to go.

When they come to take her to the palace, Mordechai, a Jewish leader, insightfully instructs her not to reveal that she is a Jew or who her family is and after a lengthy process Esther is deemed the fairest of them all.

While Mordechai does not reveal his relationship to the new queen, he frequents the palace gates to hear news of Esther’s well being. One day he overhears two men plotting to murder the king and he quickly sends word to Esther, who reveals the plot to the king in the name of Mordechai. The plotters are caught and executed, and Mordechai ‘s name and deed are written in the king’s Book of Chronicles.

In the meantime, Xerxes appoints Haman as Prime Minister, who issues a decree that all should bow to him. Mordechai refuses to bow down before Haman.

Mordechai’s refusal infuriates Haman and so he goes to the King and asks for permission to destroy the Jews.

Mordechai quickly sends word to Esther that she must go to the king and stop this horrible decree from becoming reality. Esther, however, is afraid to approach the king. It is known that anyone who approaches the king without being summoned faces the chance of death. But Mordechai sees the bigger picture and tells Esther that maybe this is why she was put in this position and that her time is now.

Summoning all of her courage, Esther agrees to go to the king but she first asks Mordechai to request all the Jews to fast for three days and repent for their own sins while praying for the decree against them to be reversed.

After being granted to see the King she request  dinner and eventually ask that the decree be lifted, which not only does the King agree to lift the decree but after reading the Book of Chronicles makes Mordechai the Prime Minister and hangs Haman.

There is so much more to this story and if you don’t know it, I suggest you read the Book of Esther. It is a quick read.

The story has many different lessons but in my opinion the heart of the story lies in these echoing words “Perhaps you have come to this place, to this moment, to these people, to this challenge, for just such a time as this.”

Since these words were said by Mordecai, many people have said words similar to help motivate people. Martin Luther King Jr. wanting equality, Susan B. Anthony when she was helping women gain the right to vote and so many more.

While you may never be a name everyone knows or fighting a law or discrimination, we can all be a change in the world.

When Mordechai first goes to Esther she doesn’t think she is has enough power to change the decree, even though she is queen she doesn’t have right to go to talk to her husband, unless she is called upon. It takes her gaining courage and strength to decide to stick up for what she knows is right, even though she knows she could die for doing it.

We’ve all had that moments like this.  Where we know God is calling us to do something but we are afraid for some reason or another. The question is how did we respond? Did we respond with an open heart saying ‘Yes God! I am ready to serve’ or did we tentatively say ‘ok God if this isn’t too hard, I can help you.’ I know I’ve been both those people at some point.

We are all told to serve God and let him work in our lives. Allowing him to use the gifts and talents he has given us but sometimes that is more difficult than it sounds.

Along with it taking her courage, it also took her asking for help. She asked the people to pray and fast before she went to the King. We often think we can do things on our own and forget that we have many people in our lives willing to help. God put them in our lives for a reason. All we have to do is ask and they will tell us if their time to step up and help us is now.

Job knew better than most about his time being now, even though he didn’t know what the situation was besides that he had lost everything.  He had no idea that God told the devil, take everything from him and that Job will still worship and praise God.
After losing everything, Job did just that. He turned to God with an open heart and mind and said he was ready for a new beginning because he knew God would provide for him.  And that is where we are at, a new beginning with the new year so open your heart and mind and ask God what you can do to walk like Job and Esther.
Maybe God won’t say it’s your time to face a king or prove to the devil that you will turn to God in all situations but will say that you should read the bible more or connect with an old friend or spend more time on you.
No matter what he says this new year remember that each of us has a purpose and that your time is now. Daily.