Every Monday, Miss Coleman, a middle-aged woman who smelled like cigarettes, gave her fifth-grade students the same assignment. “Write a story using an anonymous pen name. Fold your paper. Write your real name on the outside and your pen name on the inside. I will read them aloud on Friday.”
An awkward, scrawny kid in the back of the class put her head down and started writing. Shielded by a pen name, she released the reins of her brain, and the words poured out.
On Fridays, Miss Coleman read the stories using her best expression. These stories entertained the students with all sorts of adventures, written by their own anonymous hands. Most authors had names like George Washington, Minnie Mouse, and Davy Crocket.
Miss Coleman was reading a story by Germy Glue Bottle on one particular Friday when she started giggling during a funny part. Soon everyone else was laughing too.
That’s when the scrawny kid in the back row sat up straighter than usual, her heart pounding. And that’s when Germy Glue Bottle’s life began to change, a light glowing inside where nobody could see.
After that, when the teacher said, “The next story I’ll read is by Germy Glue Bottle,” the heads around the room went up in anticipation, fueling the light in the young girl’s heart. A writer was born.
That teacher—imperfect, creative.
A time such as that—a year with a child and a teacher, their lives woven together for a purpose.
“Such a time as this” is a phrase taken from the story of the biblical character, Esther. If you haven’t opened your Bible to the book of Esther lately, I recommend reading it in your spare time. Whoops, I just said the ridiculous phrase “spare time” to teachers.
The story takes place in Persia, ruled by King Xerxes from 486-465 BC, a place of splendor, glory, and banquet celebrations. During this time, the Jews were captives in the land.
Esther was chosen to be the queen because of her beauty. Unbeknownst to the people in the palace, she was one of the Jewish captives. Haman, a power-hungry man and appointed advisor to the king, urged Xerxes to make a decree to destroy all of the Jews—men, women, and children—on a particular day. The king handed Haman his signet ring and gave him the go-ahead. The decree was recorded and dispersed throughout the land.
Upon learning of their fate, the Jewish people, clothed in sackcloth and ashes, wept. Esther heard the anguished cries of her people outside the harem walls. Her cousin Mordecai sent word to her, urging her to approach the king and ask him to change the decree.
However, this request was not simple. An established law stated that if a person approached the king without being summoned, the person would be put to death. But, the king could spare the unexpected visitor’s life by extending his gold scepter toward the visitor.
Mordecai told her, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4: 13-14, NIV).
I’ll repeat the end of that sentence.
You have come to your royal position for such a time as this.
If I were in Esther’s shoes, I think I’d have a heart attack right then and there.
Thankfully, God put Esther in this position, not me.
She told Mordecai to have the Jews fast for three days and nights. Fasting was accompanied by prayer. She and her maids would do the same. She concluded with, “When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).
Esther: beautiful, obedient, gutsy.
She dressed in her royal robes and stood in the king’s hall. Was she praying? What was she thinking? If the law holds, I may be dead soon. After taking a deep breath, she stepped into his view and approached him.
When Xerxes saw her, he stretched out his hand with the gold scepter. Relieved, she came forward and touched the tip of it. Because of his love for Esther, the king gave her an opportunity to share what was on her heart. But, instead of telling him her concern, she invited him and Haman to a special feast later that day.
At the special feast, Esther invited the king and Haman to yet another feast the following day. It was at the second feast that she finally revealed the truth—that she was a Jew. Therefore, she and her people were to be destroyed by Haman’s suggested decree. The results of this dramatic scene were severe. Haman was put to death. The Jewish people were spared, and Mordecai was given a place of honor.
Esther had earned her position because of her beauty.
She didn’t know the importance of her obedience and courage.
She didn’t know the big picture, her purpose.
She didn’t know that she would make a difference in the lives of others.
But she was there, in that place, at that time—obedient and blessed by God.
Beautiful, obedient, blessed by God.
For such a time as that.
What about this time—now? Teachers spend their days with a batch of individuals for a specific time, one school year. Many students enter the classroom every day from homes struggling with poverty, divorce, alcoholism, depression, abuse—things that affect their focus, their self-image, their learning . . .
Kids today have only known a time when information, good or not so good, waits at their fingertips. Social media overwhelms kids, affecting their emotional well-being. Addiction tears up families, violence permeates fiction and nonfiction, and school shootings threaten students’ safety. The list is endless. The world is a hard place.
These students need a port in the storm.
A day can change from bad to good when a teacher gives a smile, a positive note, a listening ear, or a good laugh while reading a pen name story.
Mordecai said these words, “. . . you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”
Yes, teachers, you may not feel so very “royal.”
But, like Esther . . .
You earned your position because of your beauty—ful credentials.
You may not know the importance of your obedience and courage.
You may not know your big picture, your purpose.
You may not know that you are making a difference in the lives of others.
But you are there, in your school, at this time—obedient and blessed by God.
Beautiful, obedient, blessed by God.
A port in the storm.
For such a time as this.
Connie Averitt Williams (aka Germy Glue Bottle) taught upper elementary grades for 29 years. She has published ten books, mostly curriculum. Her chapter book, Right Hand Man, was awarded the C.S. Lewis contest Noteworthy book award, was placed on the Christian Education recommended reading list, and is an Accelerated Reader selection. To learn more about her or her pen name stories, visit her website or email her.