Before I switched to a vegan lifestyle I could not even spell “meal prep.” My lunches were either restaurant-made, from the Dollar Menu, or haphazardly thrown together right before I had to dash out of the house for work. I had no time to pre-plan or even think about food in advance of the moment that I needed to consume it. I cannot even begin to tell you the amount of money that I wasted on last-minute meals because I bought food when I was out and about instead of making my own.
But then October 2016 came around and my body began to ache in ways that I could not understand. I went to see a gastroenterologist, received an Endoscopy, and was told that it was time to remove meat from my diet so that inflammation in my stomach and duodenum could decrease. I had to change to my eating habits, thinking patterns, and planning schedules to be able to survive in this new lifestyle.
Simply put, I had to change who I was and had been for my entire life in order to prepare for the next chapter of my life.
Open your bibles to Esther 2:5-23, 4:13-16.
In this book of the Bible we learn about Esther, a young Jewish woman who remained in Persia with her cousin/adopted father, Mordecai, even after the Jews were set free and able to return to their home. This book is rich in information regarding preparation, but I will only pull out the crucial parts; I strongly encourage you to red the entire book on your own at some point.
In chapter 1 the current queen, Vashti, is dethroned and by chapter 2 the king is looking for a new queen. He makes a decree, asking for the virgins of the land to be brought to him so that he may choose a new queen. The process for choosing a new queen was not as simple as the king seeing a face that he liked, no, the women had to go through an intensive 12-month beautification process before they were able to even see the king. Esther, however, was very beautiful and found favor in the sight of those tasked to care for her. With this favor, they provided more for her in terms of beauty preparations than was provided for any other woman. She was also given seven of the best maidservants and relocated to the best area of the palace (Esther 2:9). In all this time, Esther never revealed her lineage, with the Bible only stating that Mordecai had instructed her not to reveal the information yet.
Even with her beauty, Esther still had to undergo this 12-month preparation period, which included “six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women (Esther 2: 12).” When her preparation period ended, she was able to see the king and her beauty caused him to make her queen. Yet even with her beauty and new appointment, she still had to follow the rules of the land with regards to visiting the king. In that time, people (not even the queen) were not allowed to enter the king’s court without being requested, for fear of death. In chapter 3 we see that the king’s second-hand man comes up with a plot to eradicate the Jews. When the news reached Mordecai, he pleaded with Esther (chapter four) to intercede on behalf of the Jews. While she declined at first, stating the rule about not seeing the king without being invited, her mind was changed by the words of Mordecai in Esther 4:13-14. By the end of the chapter, we see that Esther has devised a plan to fight for the lives of her people…still without revealing her lineage.
Fast forwarding to Esther 8, we see that Esther was able to save the Jews and reveal her lineage, in due time, without consequence.
While Esther’s 12-month period of beautification may seem weird and extra to us, this was the preparation time that God needed to change her and get her ready for the next stage of her life. Esther went from being an ordinary Jewish girl, to becoming a powerful Queen who saved the lives of all of the Jewish people. It is in our moments of preparation that we able to change from who we used to be, into who God needs us to be. Whether it is meal-prep or a training period at work, preparation readies and grows us for what is next.
As you go through this next week, examine your own life and bless God for the moments of preparation. Just like a caterpillar cannot blink and become a butterfly, but must go through a transitory/preparatory period, we, too, must prepare for the beauty that awaits us in the next step of our journey with God.