Living Life Without Hesitation
Rescue the perishing; don’t hesitate to step in and help. If you say, “Hey, that’s none of my business,” will that get you off the hook? Someone is watching you closely, you know — Someone not impressed with weak excuses. [Proverbs 24:11–12 — The Message]
“‘Wait till you see whether you can hold out.’ When a young convert feels zealous and warm-hearted, and wants to lay himself out for God, some prudent old professor will caution him not to go too fast. ‘You had better not be too forward in religion, till you see whether you can hold out; for it if you take this high ground and then fall, you will disgrace religion.’ That is, in plain English: ‘Do not do anything that constitutes religion, till you see whether you have religion.’ Religion consists in obeying God. Now, these wise teachers tell a young convert: ‘Do not obey God till you see’ — what? — till you see whether you have obeyed Him — or, till you see whether you have obtained that substance, that mysterious thing which they imagine is created and put into man, like a lump of new flesh, and called ‘religion.’ This waiting system is all wrong. There is no Scripture warrant for telling a person to wait, when the command of God is upon him, and the path of duty is before him. Let him go ahead.” [Charles G. Finney, Revivals of Religion (Westwood, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1858), 451]
How much do we miss in life because we hesitate? What happens when we do hesitate? In Proverbs 24, we are encouraged to, “Rescue the perishing; don’t hesitate to step in and help” (Prov. 24:11 — The Message). How many times was Joshua encouraged to “be strong and courageous.” If he had hesitated, what would have happened not only to him but to the soldiers who followed him?
The passage from Charles Finney’s lecture in Revivals of Religion speaks of how “seasoned Christians” often counsel new believers to hesitate — to not “over-react” when they sense God is calling them to something more. I can relate to this. When I was a young Christian, just a teenager, I heard God calling me to full-time pastoral ministry. The call came while I was praying at an altar during Youth Camp. When I returned from the camp and shared this with some of the “seasoned Christians” that I respected in the church, they suggested that it was probably just the excitement of being at camp that made me feel this way and that I probably hadn’t really heard from God. Because of their “counsel,” I decided to pursue a career in teaching. It was nine or ten years later when I was unhappy in my work and crying out to the Lord that He reminded me of my call to pastoral ministry. Now, after thirty years of ministry, I wish I hadn’t hesitated in the beginning. I should have listened to and followed God in the first place.
Sometimes it may be due to fear and sometimes due to unwise counsel. Either way, when we hesitate at a crossroad where God is pointing us a certain way, we miss out. I’m reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Paul goes on in verse 31 to write, What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? If Paul were here today, I can imagine him paraphrasing these thoughts by saying, “If God tells you to do something, go for it! Don’t hesitate and don’t let the naysayers hold you back. If God said it, it can and should be done. Why let someone else steal your blessing? Be the person who obeys the first time and you will never regret it!”
Okay, so some of those words may have been mine and not Paul’s, but you get the idea. We let too much of life slip through our fingers because we hesitate. Let God lead and be sure to follow closely in His footsteps. If you do that, you will never be disappointed.