To briefly summarize, Alexander Rustov was a Russian nobleman at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution and given a lifetime sentence of house arrest at Moscow’s Metropol Hotel. The story follows his adjustment to this sentence and the relationships he develops because of it.
Near the end of the book, when his “daughter” is asking him if he would have liked his freedom, he says: “Looking back, it seems to me that there are people who play an essential role at every turn. And I don’t just mean the Napoleons who influence the course of history; I mean men and women who routinely appear at critical junctures in the progress of art, or commerce, or the evolution of ideas—as if Life itself has summoned them once again to help fulfill its purpose (420).”
He then goes on to say “Well, since the day I was born, Sofia, there was only one time when Life needed me to be in a particular place at a particular time, and that was when your mother brought you to the lobby of the Metropol. And I would not accept the Tsarship of all the Russias in exchange for being in this hotel at that hour (421)”
This interchange took me immediately to a Biblical parallel. Not only did it remind me of Mordecai’s statement to Queen Esther when the Jews were under threat of annihilation because of Haman’s plot: “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14,” but it also extended my understanding that God places each and every one of us exactly where He wants us every minute of every day.
The other two takeaways I had from Alexander’s experience was first, that at the time taking charge of five-year-old Sofia was completely out of his comfort zone and upended his established routine completely, but second, looking back, he wouldn’t have change it for the world. The experience enriched his life not deplete it.
When we find ourselves in those out-of-our-comfort-zone experiences that look like they are only designed to disrupt our routine and upend our lives, we need to remember two things: God put us there specifically . . . and the blessings will be life-changing.