• Tiffany Miller

BLOG: (July 25-31) The Book of Esther, "Preparation"

Esther (detail), Jean-François Portaels, ca. 1869. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia

Esther had a hard situation to deal with. Literally a life threatening one. She was asked to go before the king, risking her life, to plead for the life of the Jews. I’ve never been in that type of situation. While I’m impressed with her courage, I’m also impressed with her preparation. She fasted and prayed. She asked the Jews to fast and pray with her. Not just once, but for days.

We oftentimes seem to expect answers to our prayers after not a lot of effort on our part. Oliver Cowdery fell into this trap. He expected his efforts for translating the Book of Mormon to seem as effortless as Joseph Smith’s. He probably didn’t see or notice all the effort that had gone into Joseph’s preparation over the years to be attuned to listening to the Spirit. The Lord chastised him, “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me” (D&C 9:7). This is something that happens to me, unfortunately. I want His help with something and I just ask Him. My actions and routine usually remain the same. If I want an answer to a sincere prayer, wouldn’t my life look even slightly different? Wouldn’t I spend some more time in my scriptures? Would I perhaps go to the temple more often? Would I sacrifice some of my free time to do some extra family history work or serve someone else? The Lord wants us to prepare to receive His blessings and His answers for us. The Lord tells us in our heart and our mind, but I need to get my heart and mind ready to receive, hear, and understand His answers.

The Lord loves effort! President Nelson explained this through the story of Moses. The Lord had Moses come up to the top of Mount Sinai to get the Ten Commandments. “Heavenly Father could have said, ‘Moses, you start there, and I’ll meet you halfway.’ No, the lord loves effort, because effort brings rewards that can’t come without it” (source). We’re here to learn and grow to be like our Savior. That’s the goal and the rewards the Father has for us are glorious and beautiful.

Esther’s efforts and preparation played a key role in her story. She didn’t wait until the last minute to start those preparations either. She began immediately upon hearing and accepting her task. It usually takes a great deal of time and commitment to do things in a way that makes a difference. Merely asking for His help, with no outside efforts, isn’t the way to go, as Oliver Cowdery learned. Our efforts to invite the Spirit into our lives are definitely some of our preparations. Basically, we should be constantly preparing to receive, hear, and understand the revelation the Father has for us because we should be constantly striving to have the Spirit be with us.

I read a book a couple years ago called An Astronaut’s Guide to Living on Earth. I absolutely loved it and learned a great deal. In it, the author, Chris Hadfield, described the amount and extent of the preparations the astronauts go through so they’ll be prepared to handle and respond to any situation thrown at them in a calm, effective manner. One night while he was on the space station sleeping, a fire alarm went off. A life threatening situation, made even more life threatening because he and his companions couldn’t exactly just go outside of the burning building and call 911. He said that they had practiced what to do so many times that it was second nature and their heartbeats didn’t even really increase. Wow! I’m pretty sure my stomach would drop and I’d panic a little which turns your brain off and inhibits your ability to think clearly. They knew exactly how to respond because they had spent the time and effort in learning and practicing the things they needed to know to be successful. “We felt competent to deal with whatever happened - a sense of confidence that comes directly from solid preparation. Nothing boosts confidence quite like simulating a disaster, engaging with it fully, both physically and intellectually, and realizing you have the ability to work the problem. Each time you manage to do that your comfort zone expands a little, so if you ever have that particular problem in real life, you’re able to think clearly” (pg 56). “When the stakes are high, preparation is everything” (pg 66). Alma and Amulek drove this principle home while teaching the Zoramites: “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (Alma 34:32). The story of the Stripling Warriors is another example. Their mothers didn’t wait to teach them the gospel and help cultivate their faith in Jesus Christ until they were called upon to act. Those boys were ready when called upon because they didn’t “procrastinate the day of [their] repentance” (Alma 34:33).

“When the stakes are high, preparation is everything.” The stakes are high! We need to spend time and effort in preparing to meet God. This is the time. Our task is set before us. We get to choose if we’ll be like Esther and set about our preparations immediately or if we’ll choose to procrastinate instead, maybe eat, drink, and be merry for a few more days because we still have time to work out our salvation. I can skip church this once, skip my scripture studying today; I’m too tired; I’ll do extra tomorrow. ____ fill in the blank with your own rationale and excuse for lack of effort.

We’re engaged in the work of the Lord, the work of saving souls. We are to be a light to those in darkness and lead them to Christ. When speaking about his work with opening up countries in Eastern Europe for the Lord’s Work to go forward, President Nelson taught, “The Lord is able to do His own work, and I was privileged to watch the unfolding of one miracle after another - always, and only, after, I had brought my best thinking, my most courageous efforts, and most fervent prayers to the task.” Let us be like Esther and go about our preparations immediately. We too were born for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). We’ve been called upon to act, are we ready?

I'm Tiffany and I live in sunny Arizona (love me some sunshine!). I have 5 beautiful daughters. I know what you're thinking, that's A LOT of estrogen! and you'd be right, but we have some of the greatest times known to mankind through our adventures in learning (we homeschool), loving, playing, and growing together. In my spare time, I love to read (I own literally thousands of books) and hike in the beautiful mountains near my home.

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