I wrote a whole article about being a procrastinator, but there’s one aspect that I never got around to. In fact, even now I hesitate to bring it up. Oh wait. I just did. Hesitation is exactly the subject I want to talk about.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "hesitation”? A brief pause? A moment of uncertainty? Second thoughts? I don’t know about you, but I conjure up an image from the movies where an evil villain has set the hounds after a fair maiden. She’s literally running for her life when she reaches the edge of a high rocky cliff overlooking a swirling, churning river far below. She knows she could drown in the current, if she’s even lucky enough to survive the jump. On the other hand, she can almost feel the hot breath of that vicious pack of dogs closing in on her fast. Certain death awaits her if she’s caught. With her toes literally hanging out over the ledge, her body shifting forward and back ever so slightly, she hesitates...
Of course, sometimes hesitation can be a good thing. It gives us a split second for common sense to kick in, thus allowing us to avoid an embarrassing blunder, a stupid mistake, or worse, a horrible disaster. But more often than not, hesitation equals missed opportunity.
To illustrate my point let me share something that happened to me last week while I was standing at Buckingham Palace, waiting the changing of the Guard. I chronicled this event in the article "You-Hoo, Liz! Over HERE!”, but while the story was true (well, maybe I embellished the part about the curtsey just a little bit) the photo I used wasn’t taken by me at all. It was very kindly e-mailed to me by the darling girl standing next to me. At the very moment Queen Elizabeth’s car passed in front of us, Eileen was quick and decisive, and was able to capture the image perfectly. I, on the other hand, faltered with my finger on the shutter, unable to make up my mind whether to try and zoom in or not, and as you can see in this photo I took myself, all I got was an obstructed view of the Royal back bumper! We are NOT amused. Hesitation equals missed opportunity.
Unfortunately, photography isn’t the only area of my life in which I’m hampered by hesitation. I also find it to be an especially big deterrent when it comes to living out my faith. Galatians 6:10 says, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” That word "opportunity” makes me wince.
An older lady checking out in front of me at the grocery store the other day spent five minutes digging small bills and coins out of her change purse, only to come up $1.53 short on the total she needed. I started to offer to make up the difference but didn’t. Instead I waited impatiently as she agonized over which item to have the clerk remove from her bill before shuffling out the door, minus her guava nectar. Hesitation equals missed opportunity.
It’s the rainy season right now in Florida, which means we get a lot of brief but torrential downpours. Yesterday I saw a mom and her two children standing at a corner waiting on a bus. Suddenly the skies just opened up. She had no umbrella and no place to dash for cover. I thought about pulling over and motioning for them to hop in the backseat, at least until the rain stopped but I didn’t. I just drove past. And then there were too many cars behind me to turn around and go back. Now I feel terrible about it. Hesitation equals missed opportunity.
Not long ago a very nice lady struck up a conversation with me as we perused the shelves at our local bookstore. More than once she mentioned that she was new to the city, having recently relocated here from another state. I told her I knew exactly what that was like, having made a similar move myself a few years back. Recalling my own somewhat painful experience caused me to briefly consider exchanging phone numbers with this woman, suggesting that we get together for lunch, but I just never got the words out. She left the store and I’ll never see her again, which is a real shame because I could tell she desperately needed a new friend, just like I did – and still do. I really wish I had said something. Hesitation equals missed opportunity.
In my devotion today I was reading in Luke 8 about a time in Jesus’ ministry when huge crowds turned out to see Him. Among them was a woman who had a seemingly incurable bleeding condition. She tried to get close but there were so many people, the best she could do was touch the edge of His cloak. Immediately she was healed. The account goes on to tell how Jesus commended her faith, but what I focused on was the fact that she only had a split second to reach for His garment. If she had paused, if she had second-guessed herself, if she had been even slightly reluctant, He would have been beyond her grasp. In this instance, no hesitation equaled a life-changing opportunity.
I just hope I can remember all of these things the next time I have a chance to speak now or forever hold my lack of peace.