Letter to Esther

Beloved Daughter,

We cannot see your face and can only guess at your personality as you kick and roll in the womb. We don’t know who you are or what you will become. We do know that you always greet each morning with a burst of activity, wiggling vigorously as soon as your mother wakes up. When you were smaller, you would move so energetically that it felt like you were dancing. Now that you’ve grown to fill your warm, soft world, you don’t have as much room to frolic. Instead you stretch and roll, stubbornly pushing against the boundaries. Soon enough the walls will be gone and you will have all the space from the solid ground underfoot to the wide sky overhead to stretch your legs and dance. Looking at your mother’s belly is like seeing the cover of a book, feeling you squirm is like reading a brief prelude. Soon the pages will turn and Chapter One will begin. Esther Louise Love will enter this world.

We give you your first name to commemorate the story of Queen Esther. Filled with romance, intrigue, feasting, fasting, hangings, and courageous deeds, her story is one of the greatest in all of literature. But more than that, it is a glorious epic illustrating God’s sovereignty as He expands His kingdom into all the nations.

Set against the backdrop of the Persian Empire, this story takes place when God had given His people over into the hands of their enemies. But as the Jews left the Promised Land, the words of Jeremiah the Prophet went with them:

Build houses and live in them
Plant gardens and eat their produce.
Take wives and have sons and daughters
Take wives for your sons
And give your daughters in marriage
That they may bear sons and daughters.
Multiply there and do not decrease
But seek the peace of the city
Where I have sent you into exile
And pray to the Lord on its behalf
For in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Though the exile was God’s judgment on Israel, He was using His people —even as outcasts and prisoners—to spread the light of His Kingdom. And that’s what this story is about: God using an ungodly ruler, the mistakes of Mordecai, and the schemes of Haman to bring about His purposes. Times looked hopeless, but God had a plan.

In the beginning, Esther and her guardian, Mordecai, were not being witnesses for God. Looking for a new queen, the king of Persia summoned all of the beautiful young virgins to his harem. Among them was Esther, but before she left, Mordecai, scheming for political power, charged her not to make it known that she was a Jew. When Esther’s turn came to go to the king, she won grace and favor in his eyes so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her his queen. Shortly after this, Mordecai uncovered a plot against the king and the record of his deed was recorded in the book of the chronicles. It seems all is well, but then Haman the Agagite enters the story.

Because of the ancient conflict between Amalek and Israel, Mordecai refused to obey the king’s command to honor Haman, second in authority only to the king. Enraged by this dishonor, Haman connived to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews. When Mordecai heard the king’s edict, he finally repented of his rebellion. Tearing his clothes and putting on sackcloth and ashes, he said these words to Esther:

Do not think that in the King’s palace you will escape. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have come into the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther replied by asking all the Jews to join her in fasting for three days. "Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish."

In the end, Mordecai was honored instead of Haman and it was Haman who was hung on the special fifty cubit gallows. The king heard Esther’s petition and granted her request to save her people. When the thirteenth day of the twelfth month arrived and the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain mastery over them, the reverse happened. And Mordecai declared those days a holiday because their sorrow was turned into gladness.

Your second name is Louise, a name you share with your mother, your grandmother, and your mother’s grandmother. But we carry on this tradition in memory of your grandfather’s grandmother, Viola Louise Gwinn, who died only a few months before you were born.

Your Grandpa Lyons tells of a time when Granny grabbed him by his chubby cheeks, looked in his eyes and said, "I love you." Grandpa—a little eight-year-old boy—didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know him very well; how could she know she loved him? Though she told him that the proper response was, "I love you, too," it took Grandpa a long time to realize that Granny simply loved him—regardless of his personality and despite his faults. He didn’t have to earn her love.

None of the women who bear this name are faultless, but all of them are daughters of the Lord who strive to serve and love those around them. And all of them are loved by their Heavenly Father—not because of any great deeds they’ve done—just because He chose to love them.

Your third name is Love. The word love surrounds us in our culture. There are songs about love, movies in which the characters fall in and out of love, and people use the word to describe anything from their favorite food to their feelings of attraction to someone else. It is even used as an excuse to sin, rebel against authority, and break covenants. But true love is not made up of chocolates and sweet sayings and it doesn’t give up loving when the warm fuzzies fizzle.

The Bible is not silent on the theme of love, but it is more often depicted as an action than as a feeling. The ultimate example of true love is the story that the whole Bible tells—indeed, it is the story that began at the dawn of time and is still being written: continued in our lives and yours. It is the story of God’s love for us.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only son into the world, so that we might live through Him…. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments. (I John)

God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die that we might live. In living you can have true love—love which says with the Psalmist, "Oh how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day." This love can overflow to the people around you, "bearing all things, hoping all things, and enduring all things." By this love, the world will know that you are a disciple of Christ.

When the pastor asks us at church, "What is the Christian name of this child?" we will reply, "Esther Louise Love." Much like Esther, we are God’s people living as exiles in an ungodly land. Remember the words of Jeremiah and be encouraged that God uses our mistakes and even the most mundane routines of a life lived for Him to fulfill His purposes. As the water dribbles over your tiny head, our prayer will be that you will be filled with the kind of love that dies to self to give unconditionally to others. Know that while we will try to love you unconditionally, your Heavenly Father will never fail.