I check my watch and rush through the entrance of Starbucks, scolding myself for being late. The door slams behind me as if in agreement with my tardiness. Will Esther be uncomfortable in a setting full of strangers in a time foreign to the young queen? I pray she hasn’t given up on me and left.
Giggles erupt from the corner and my gaze darts to discover what commotion has interrupted the other patrons. I gasp. Three girls surround Esther, eyes fixated on the queen as she speaks. Her animated face tells me she’s in the middle of one of her mesmerizing tales.
I chuckle. How could I have doubted her?
The coffee aroma lures me and I approach the barista. I order a decaf latte and a muffin as more giggles fill the background.
I fumble with my money and loonies tumble from my wallet, rolling out on the counter. Way to go, clumsy Darlene. My cheeks flush. I mumble an apology and pay for my drink.
I walk with my head down by the others waiting in line, hoping they hadn’t seen my klutzy move. Why do I let my fears of what others think to get the best of me?
I make my way to Esther’s table. Today she’s dressed in a royal purple gown, lavished with gold beading around the bodice and sleeves. Perfect for a queen. The jewels adorning her neck sparkle in the lighting.
Her eyes brighten when she spots me. She stands and we hug. “So good to see you again.”
“I’m sorry for being late,” I say. “Got caught in traffic.”
“That’s okay. These ladies were keeping me company.”
The girls thank Esther and wave on their way out.
“I heard all the laughter. What story were you telling?” I ask.
“The time Xerxes tried to cook for me. It was a disaster.” She rolled her eyes.
I sit and remove my jacket. “I thought you had servants.”
“We do, but he wanted to do something special for our anniversary. Let’s just say he never did it again.” She rubbed my hand, eyes softening. “You looked tired.”
“Rough week. Glad it’s over. How are you?”
“Good. Looking forward to today. What shall we chat about?”
I pull my journal, pen, and recording device out. “I would like to tape our discussion today if that’s okay.”
I pressed record. “First question. Last week we talked about all the beauty preparations. So when that was all said and done, what was it like being chosen by King Xerxes out of all the other girls? Did you feel like you were the winner of a beauty contest?”
She sits back and runs her finger along her teacup.
The barista arrives with my latte and muffin. I take a sip, waiting for the queen to gather her thoughts.
“Honestly, no. Both Mordecai and I had prayed for God’s will. When the King chose me, I knew then that my Father wanted me there for a specific time and reason.”
“Some, maybe. I was close with most of them and they were happy for me.”
“What was the King like when you first got married?”
She blushes. “A gentleman. He tried to win my approval in everything.”
“So you had a perfect marriage?”
“Of course not. We had our rough patches, but we persevered and weathered the storms.”
I check my notes for what I want to ask next. “When Mordecai asked you to go before the King to save your people, what went through your mind?”
“Are you crazy?”
“But seriously, it had been thirty days since the King had summoned me. I was scared. It could mean death.”
“Did you think about not doing it?”
She sighs and pours herself another cup of tea from the small pot. “For a split second, but then I realized something of great importance.”
The café hushes in response to her comment as if they hear.
I hold my breath.
“That was why He put me in the Kingdom. To save my people. So, I had to overcome my fears and choose my family over my own safety. It didn’t matter what happened to me.”
“Wow. So, how did it feel when you opened the doors to the king’s quarters and stepped through?” I take a bit of my banana muffin.
“Exposed and terrified. But, strangely peaceful at the same time.”
The hairs at the back of my neck prickle and a shiver runs through my body. “How is that possible?”
“I think you know. Our Fathers gives us courage when we choose to face our fears.”
My earlier brush of panic at the counter surfaces along with my week of insecurities. How could I not face my own piddling fears when Esther went up against death?
Tears pool in my eyes and I blink them away.
Esther reaches for my hand. “Are you okay?”
I nod but can’t speak.
The barista comes to take our dirty cups away. I’m thankful for the interruption to clear my thoughts.
Esther smiles. “You understand now, don’t you?”
“I do. Until we choose to face our fears, we won’t have true peace and that will hold me back from living the life God has chosen for me.”
“And then you will have a courageous heart.”
I gather Esther’s hands in mine. “Thank you for our time together. You have taught me so much. I want the courageous heart you have.”
“I only have it through my Savior. He gives me strength.”
“You’re such an inspiration for all women of today.”
“Thanks,” she whispers.
“One more question. What happened next in your lives? After you saved your people?”
Esther leans forward. “How is it you end a fairy tale? Oh yes, we lived happily ever after.”
Can you relate to me in this story? Do you suffer from fears? Insecurities? Let’s choose to face them. Will you stand against them with me and have a courageous heart? I know it won’t be easy, but we can do it together! Give me your comments. I would love to pray for you.
Deuteronomy 31:23 (NLT)
“Be strong and courageous . . . I will be with you.”