Antoinette Tuff had an appointment and so did Esther.
Both had an appointment where God allowed their paths to cross with people in desperate situations.
In the book of Esther, we read about a young Jewish woman God raised up to save the Israelites from genocide during their captivity in Persia. After the Persian King’s first wife fell out of favour, Esther was selected the next Queen because of her beauty. When a plot to exterminate the Jews was uncovered, Queen Esther was in a unique position to do something to stop it.
But she was terrified, as approaching the King unannounced could result in her execution.
It was then Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, said to his niece, “Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this.” Esther 4:14 NASV
The word “time” in this verse is the Hebrew word “et” and is derived from an Akkadian word meaning “to be occupied” thus an appointed time. In our modern vernacular, Esther had an appointment with destiny. God had arranged for Esther to be selected Queen positioning her so she could make a difference.
It was Esther’s bravery that ultimately stopped the massacre.
But I have noticed in recent months, that centuries later God is still making appointments for believers.
Antoinette Tuff talks down Brandon Hill
Antoinette Tuff wasn’t even supposed to be at work that morning. She works as a bookkeeper at Ronald E McNair Discovery Learning Center in Decatur, Georgia — an elementary school located on the outskirts of Atlanta. She was scheduled to be off but a shift change put her in the school precisely at the time God wanted her there.
God had scheduled an appointment. Antoinette would meet Brandon Hill that morning.
When 20-year-old Brandon Hill walked into the learning center with an AK-47 assault rifle and 500 bullets, trouble was brewing. According to reports, Brandon was mentally unstable and didn’t care if he died.
The first person he ran into was Antoinette Tuff. Though she was trained to deal with these type of situations, she broke all the rules when she began talking to Brandon. She told the distraught man about her personal struggles including thoughts of suicide after her husband left her the year previous. She told Brandon she loved him and even offered to walk outside the school with him so the police wouldn’t shoot him.
Even though there was a brief moment of gun fire between Brandon and the police, Antoinette mediated between Brandon and the police. The police never did talk with Brandon, Antoinette did all the talking and eventually Brandon simply put his AK-47 down, allowing the police to arrest him.
Why was she so successful? According to Antoinette, God helped her. Here is part of an interview she had with CNN’s Anderson Cooper transcribed by Lee Woofenden:
Anderson Cooper: Did you know . . . How did you know what to say to him? How did you know the right things to say?
Antoinette Tuff: Well, to be honest with you, I didn’t. While I was there and she [911 operator Kendra McCray] was talking and he [the shooter] was saying things to me, I was just praying in my spirit, I was praying on the inside of myself, and saying, “God, what do I say now? What do I do now?” I just kept saying that on the inside because I knew that I had no words to say. And I knew I was terrified!
Anderson Cooper: What do you think the lesson in this is for people? What do you want people to take away from this?
Antoinette Tuff: To know that God is real. To know that it wasn’t me. It was nothing I did that was so special.
AC: You don’t feel you’re special? Do you not feel like you’re a hero?
AT: (pauses) No, not really. I mean, I feel like I helped somebody in need; that God was able to use me, and it was an honor to be able to be used. I feel like I was in the right place, and God needed me to be there to be a vessel for him.
In an interview with CNN, DeKalb County’s chief of police Alexander said, “Was the potential there to have another Sandy Hook? Absolutely.”
God makes appointments for all of us
Though Esther’s and Antoinette’s appointments are dramatic, I believe God regularly makes appointments for all believers.
It doesn’t happen all the time, but probably more often than we realize. Our paths cross with people needing to hear the gospel, with others desperately needing a word of encouragement and those requiring prayer or even healing. Other times it is simply a single mother needing help.
But these are God appointments and like Esther and Antoinette, God wants us to set aside our fears and minister.