“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Esther mouthed the words, praying that temptation would subside, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” Sweat beaded on her forehead as she fought to forget. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
They had told her they did not think she was ready to serve on the mission field. Yet, here she was on mission’s frontline. She had given up everything to come - everything except for a token of a lover’s esteem. A simple flower, dried and pressed, found lodging in the book, Song of Songs. Sometimes as she studied God’s Word she came across the flower and a renewed battle raged between flesh and spirit.
He had been a godly man and she had loved him with every bit of her heart. They had spent hours together planning and dreaming of a future that was not to be. A special emphasis week at church had brought her to the point of obedience as she accepted the call to the mission field. He did not recognize the call nor did he understand her newfound passion. An emotional fabric was ripped when he walked away. He did not leave in anger, for he passed along a simple garden flower and the memory of a single tear.
These tender thoughts betrayed her true calling. She would reminisce about the color of his eyes, the feel of his hand in hers and the sound of his voice. These thoughts always led to ruminations on what a future with him would have been like. In turn, Esther would question the call and condemn herself for the question.
So, she grasped Scripture and prayed while she wept at her lack of self-discipline. She wept for the solitary life she led. She wept for the people she served who did not know, nor love her God. She wept for the might-have-beens. She wept as the flower was returned to its spot near the middle of her Bible. Then she fell asleep exhausted from her inner war.
There were always needs to be met and the dawn delivered those needs with intense zeal - a village boy in need of medicine, a young woman ready to give birth and a grandmother who wondered if she would ever be able to see again.
Patiently, Esther attended to each need in turn and sometimes in concert. She wiped her brow when a man stepped up and said, “You say our gods - bad.”
“I say there is only one true God,” she replied pleasantly.
“What make your God true?” the man asked.
For a time, Esther shared the saving power of the Way, the Truth and the Life giver. She had seen this man in the village and he always seemed so cold. This time the man was visibly moved by her words.
“You help us, always. You tired and sad. I see it, but you speak what we do not know. I would hear more of this Jesus.” Esther fought back fresh tears as she paid honor to the most respected man in the village.
Esther thought it ironic that fresh fruit can render old flowers powerless. She returned to her house and said words that had been cried in desperation only the night before. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Now the words flowed from a heart that has met the Master and can find nothing of value to give, but praise.
The dried flower fell from the middle of her most precious book. She gazed on the memory and smiled pensively. She took a deep breath and threw the past in the fire. She finally understood the true meaning of 1 Samuel 15:22, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.”
In that moment her life became much sweeter fragrance to the Maker of flowers and free-will.
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