The importance of seeing many sides of preparation
Have you noticed that preparation has more than one dimension? If you have ever run a half marathon, or any demanding race, you will know that physical preparation is not enough; although you need to train, eat and sleep well, it is vital that you prepare your mind. It is easy to forget to prepare your mind for a physical activity; conversely, it is easy to forget to prepare your body for a mental or spiritual activity.
One of the most useful examples of preparation is detailed in the story of Esther, the queen. We don’t need to tell the whole story, but focus on one moment when she has to make a request of the king. This is a king who could have you executed with a nod of his head, so she has to prepare well for any meeting.
The purpose of the meeting is an attempt to rescue the entire nation of Israel from ethnic cleansing. Esther fasts, plans, gathers support, and thinks deeply; she may have prayed, but there is no record of it.
The description of the meeting with the king recounts that when he sees her, he is pleased. So pleased is he, that he offers her anything she wants up to half his kingdom.
You don’t need to be a genius to deduce that if he made an offer like that, because of what he saw, then she must have looked terrific.
Here is the challenge: when preparing for any work project, have you thought of the visual impact? it’s a massive challenge, because there are many forces at work demeaning the visual as shallow or irrelevant. Ask yourself, however, if you hear a presentation and the visual aids are poor, what the impact may be: if you have a product in your hand and it looks great, will it help you take it more seriously? if you hear a preacher expound the virtues of self-control while being grossly overweight, does it help or hinder the message?
Spiritual and mental messages come in physical packages. So it would seem wise to include such thinking in your preparation.
The reverse danger is also real. You can spend so much time making something look right, while neglecting the content, that it becomes an empty shell; that is a subject to look at another time.
8 When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 She pleased him and won his favour. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
1 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.” 4 “If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.” 5 “Bring Haman at once,” the king said, “so that we may do what Esther asks.” So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. 6 As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”
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