Series: “BETWEEN THE LINES: The Inconspicuous Providence of God” by Pastor David R. Stokes
Sunday, August 26th, 2018: “The VICTOR Mentality”
This week’s expectakeaway devotional comes to us from Tracey Dowdy! Each week she writes heartfelt devotionals for each of our eTeam Connections and Pastor Stokes asked that we share this past week’s with all of you.
Names are significant in the Bible. Many times, parents chose names based on what was happening at the time of the birth – for example, Hannah, who longed for a child named her son Samuel because it means “asked of God; heard by God.” Sometimes individuals would change their name because of their circumstances. In the book of Ruth, Naomi, whose name means "pleasantness" changes her name to Mara, meaning “bitter” after her husband and sons died.
Esther was first named Hadassah, meaning “myrtle,” which at first may seem like an odd choice. With meaningful names like Sarah - “my princess,” and Moses - “drawn out of the water,” naming your daughter after a shrub seems thoughtless. But, the parallels between her life and that of the myrtle tree prove once again that God’s hand of providence was at work from the very beginning of Hadassah’s story.
The myrtle tree signified life and fertility for the Hebrew people. The blooms of the trees are white, representing purity and virginity. It’s evergreen, starting out as just a little shrub, growing only a few inches every year. The trunk of a myrtle isn’t a single stalk, but as it matures, several smaller stalks become entwined and grow into one, robust trunk. Its roots run deep and are capable of pulling nutrients and water out of the most difficult soil, helping it to withstand extreme weather conditions. Furthermore, the minerals and elements leave their mark, creating variations within the woodgrain that make each myrtle tree unique. When crushed, the leaves and flowers release a beautiful, fragrant oil that’s used both in healing remedies and in perfumes. Perhaps most significantly, even when pruned back to a stump, the tree is capable of regeneration and comes back stronger with even more branches and blossoms.
Hadassah doesn’t seem like such a thoughtless choice after all, now does it?
So many of the characteristics of the myrtle correspond to both Esther’s journey and ours as believers. Like the myrtle tree, we are planted where God has placed us, for such a time as this. Through the storms and challenges life throws at us, our faith, like the roots of the myrtle, stretch deep, drawing on the word of God and His promises for our strength and wisdom. When we’re battered and worn and we’re facing the consequences of our choices, our scars and battle wounds become tools the Father uses to speak life and truth into another’s life. And each time we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is beside us, sustaining us, leading us out the other side stronger, more prepared, and equipped to face the next challenge.
Our experiences shape us. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s because your journey is unique. It provides you with a different perspective from even those closest to you. Remember, nothing comes to us that hasn’t first passed through the hands of God – it’s all part of his plan to shape us and use us to accomplish His will.