In a familiar scene from classic movies, a herald rides into the far flung town, on the outskirts of the empire. He brings news from the castle and the king: he is mustering for battle, and every house must send a representative to fight in the king’s battles. Or the courier is a tax collector, gathering money scraped from the rocky fields to fund the monarch’s latest escapades.

Once, however, couriers rode in to villages and towns and provinces across what is now India, Ethiopia, Iraq, Egypt, and Libya. Rather than sharing court news, plans for war, or collecting taxes, they pounded the court document in the center of town:
On the 13th day of the 12 month, every Jew throughout this vast empire would be murdered.

Every woman killed.
Every child destroyed.
Every aged man annihilated.
Every person murdered.

As the heralds thundered out of town, the settling dust did little to cover the bewilderment they left behind.

By now, you probably recognize Xerxes, Esther, Mordecai, and Haman starring in this epic tale of good versus evil and might versus right.

When his queen revealed herself to be one of these condemned Jews, pleading for reprieve and rescue, Xerxes could not simply reverse his decree.

According to the law of the Medes and Persians, an edict signed with the king’s ring could not be changed.

You know what else can’t be changed?

Your past.

Your yesterday.

Your 2019.

The choices you made last week, last month, and last year.

Xerxes couldn’t simply say, “Never mind” or cancel the plans he had set in motion. The unalterable decree would continue, no matter what the ruler of the empire desired. The messengers had already been sent to the corners of his kingdom.

And so instead, with the help of Mordecai, Xerxes issued a new decree: On the day originally slated for destruction, Xerxes empowered the Jews to defend themselves and to fight back. They were commissioned to protect their own.

When setting goals or making plans for a new year, there is a temptation to set all my goals in a vacuum—to idealize my perfect life, disregarding the reality I bring with me.

The reality is that yesterday’s actions affect today’s. It doesn’t work to cancel a decree, but it does work to issue a new one. And so new goals must be established in light of past ones, working to either further or counteract them.

As you launch into a new and promising decade, issue a new decree. Add your signet to God-given dreams and goals, and team up with Him to make them happen.

You didn’t think that this was going to be one of those happy fluffy new year posts, did you?

“God’s mercies are new every morning. And it is always morning somewhere!”
—Gloria Furman