When I was 19 years old, my mother tried to teach me how to drive a manual. It was challenging for her to say the least! My biggest problem was I hesitated. One day in particular my hesitation almost killed everyone in the car. I was driving my mom, grandmother and brother home. We crossed a highway. I had to cross one part, stop and wait to cross the second part to safely get on this busy highway. I saw all the cars coming at me and fear gripped my heart. I couldn’t seem to get my eyes of the cars barreling down so I could focus on driving across the highway. When the chance for me to get across came, my fear kicked in and I hesitated. Then suddenly I decided to go anyway. In the end, the car stalled as we slowly strolled across the highway, only to just miss being smashed to pieces by the many cars heading our way. I think my grandmother’s heart stopped and started multiple times! (Needless to say, driving a manual wasn’t wise for me. Actually, driving isn’t wise for me. But that’s another blog.)
When Jesus called Simon Peter, his brother Andrew, who were fishing for a living, to follow Him, they immediately left their nets and took His invitation. Later Jesus called James, son of Zebedee and his brother John to follow Him, and they immediately left their father and their fishing business and obeyed the call. There was no hesitation in either of these men’s responses to Jesus’ call to be His disciple. (Matthew 4:18-22).
Then, we find another disciple who was called by Jesus, “Another disciple said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead’” (Matthew 8:21-22).
Now whether this disciple ended up following Jesus or not is unclear, but the one part of this testimony that contrasts with the first disciples who Jesus called was his hesitation. This testimony isn’t about Jesus not caring for the burial of this man’s father. His point was this man’s reluctance to fully follow. Unlike Peter, Andrew, James and John who immediately left job and a living father to follow Jesus, this disciple couldn’t quite let go of the life he had without Jesus. He looked back and let what he was leaving fill his heart instead of the new life Jesus was offering. Often this is the case of many who call themselves a “follower of Jesus.” Figuratively, they choose to live their life among the dead instead of fully embracing the abundant life of Christ. To fully follow Jesus does mean leaving something behind; but it also means embracing something better.
Hesitation is a breeding ground for disobedience. It doesn’t lead us to a wise decision, as some might think. Hesitation is often a symptom of fear whereas immediately following Jesus is a demonstration of total faith. Fear was at the heart of my hesitation in crossing the highway; as a result I came close to killing my whole family. I certainly scared everyone almost to death! My hesitation created more fear. And I have never felt comfortable driving a manual since. My hesitation did not breed more courage, it fueled more hesitation.
Do you think Peter, Andrew, James and John fully understood what it took to follow Jesus? Probably not. Do you think they may have had some fear and doubt? I’m sure they did. But they trusted that Jesus would help them overcome this and take them to greater heights of faith instead of fear. Do you think that Peter, Andrew, James and John looked back on their life and thought, “Boy, I wished I had stayed and fished for the rest of my life?” No, I’m sure they were grateful for the step of faith they took. Jesus took them on the ride of their life! He gave them the keys to change the world and granted them life eternal! They saw Jesus do miracles, teach amazing truths with authority and ultimately pay and overcome the price of man’s sin. They experienced prophecy fulfilled, and they got to participate in revealing Christ to others by becoming the forerunners of the church age, in which we are all beneficiaries!
On the other hand, do you think the disciple who wanted to go and bury his father lived with regret? If he didn’t follow Jesus, I’m confident he lived with remorse and regret for his hesitation.
To follow Jesus requires overcoming our fear by trusting in a life that is better than the one we are living.
“Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is looking forward to the city whose architect and builder is God. The life we live without Jesus is dark, dim, weak and powerless. We know this, but often what holds us back is while miserable we are comfortable. Comfortable in the mundane never leads to a superior life. And superior is not obtained with mediocrity. It takes seeing the cars barreling down at us and gunning the car across when we have the chance! That’s victory! Why would we continue to invest time and effort in the dead of this life when we know that we can embrace and experience the Living God for today and forever? Seems foolish, doesn’t it?
Is Jesus calling you? Are you living a mediocre life of discipleship? Is your life dull, dim, weak and powerless? Just maybe you are spending too much time missing your old life instead of putting your foot on the clutch and gas and taking your life to a higher gear! Go! A greater life of joy and power awaits you! Kick hesitation and fear in the dust!