Recently I hesitated… it’s one thing to hesitate when you are pulling out into traffic or in deciding whether or not to make a big purchase but this was different…
It was lunchtime on a holiday and the small town I live in felt like a ghost town.
I had gone for a walk and noticed two girls sitting on the stairs near my house that lead up to the piazza in front of the town civic center.
It seemed pretty obvious they weren’t from around here…
for one thing, they were both blonde.
My guess is they were on vacation, perhaps college students backpacking through Sicily on their Spring Break.
Looking back, I feel like the priest or Levite in the story of the good samaritan… I walked by on the other side of the road.
I first saw them as I was heading out on my walk and immediately had the thought that I should go and talk to them.
But I didn’t.
I kept walking.
I told myself:
“I’ll catch them on the way back from my walk.”
A short time later, I walked back the same way.
They were still there.
But I hesitated.
I went home and told myself I’d go out to meet them shortly…
but I never did.
I was a chicken…
The excuses that I had were dumb. I couldn’t think of what to say to start a conversation or to explain why I’d come out just to meet them… I’d probably never see them again anyways, so what would it matter it I looked a little silly? I kept thinking there might something I had that they might need… a meal, a map, directions, a suggestion of somewhere to see or a place to eat… even a ride…
In the not-so-far reaches of my mind was a verse I had just read a day or two prior:
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” -Hebrews 13:2
I don’t think they were angels per se, put I do think I was suppose to initiate a conversation with them, maybe even offer them some form of hospitality.
But still I hesitated… and ultimately, I missed out… on what, I’ll never know.
In the days following, I couldn’t get the story of Esther out of my mind. I read the story start to finish but then came back to chapters 4-6 several times over.
I have several questions for the text: Did Esther hesitate? Is that why she didn’t tell the king her plea the first night king Xerxes and Haman came to dine with her? Was it because she was afraid?
I’m not entirely sure what the answers are to these questions. The text doesn’t say definitively.
What I do see, is that her… what appears to be hesitation, God used for good.
God’s timing is all over this story, as well as His sense of humor and love for irony. What happens between Esther’s first banquet for the king and Haman and the banquet she throws the following evening is pretty stunning.
And something else I’ve never seen before… hopeful.
If God can use Esther’s hesitation to speak to the king, He can use my hesitations too.
At the same time, I don’t want to hesitate when Jesus is inviting me to do something. I want to say, “Yes!” immediately and jump right in to whatever He is calling me to do. I don’t want to be held back by fear, which is really just a form of unbelief. I want to trust in my good and all-powerful Father and be emboldened by a constant awareness that He is always by my side and will give me all that I need to do whatever it is He is asking of me.
But in those times when fear gets the better of me, may I rest in God’s perfect timing in all things. In His infinite wisdom and foreknowledge, my hesitations are no set-back for Him but quite the contrary, tools He can use to accomplish His good and perfect will.
“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.” – Romans 8:28