2 Words that Help Us Humbly – But Confidently – Get to Work

Sometimes waiting is bad.

Let’s say, for example, that you have a neighbor with whom you have built a relationship with. You’ve watched football together, chatted over the fence, exchanged tips on smoking meat – and yet you know that in your neighbor there is a deep discontent and dissatisfaction with life. There is a hole in his heart, and you know the answer – it is, of course, the gospel.

So what are you waiting for? This is an issue you don’t really need to pray and try and find direction on. Jesus has already told us that we should go and make disciples. He has told us that we should be His witnesses. There isn’t a need to wait any more – open your mouth and share the hope that you have. In that situation, waiting is bad.

But other times waiting is good. And you don’t have to look far in the pages of Scripture to find examples of that.

Moses believed he was the deliverer, but he should have waited on God’s timing. Abram was to be the father of many nations, but he should have waited on God’s provision. Saul was chosen to be king, but he should have waited in God’s direction.

So how do we know the difference? Frederich Buechner once said that “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Buechner would advise us to just get moving, but we should still be a little careful.

We should be careful that we don’t presume upon God. We should be careful that we don’t move so quickly that we are trusting in our own plans and then asking God to come along behind us and bless them. So again we ask, how do we know the difference?

If we turn to the story of Esther, we find two words that are helpful in that regard.

To refresh your memory, Esther was a Jew, but had kept her ethnicity a secret. No one – not even her husband, the king – knew of her ancestry. But things in the land had reached a tipping point. Hamaan, the vengeful and evil advisor to the king, had put a plot in motion that would lead to the extermination of the Jewish people. Something had to be done, and maybe Esther was the one to do it.

But she could only move forward at great personal risk. She had not been in the king’s presence for some time, and going into this presence uninvited carried with it the penalty of death unless he pardoned the intrusion.

This is where we find the two words, spoken by Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, who was urging her to take some kind of action. Esther hesitated, and here is now Mordecai responded:

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).

“Who knows?” Those are the two words. Those are the two words that guard us from presumption, and yet move us to action at the same time. Those are the two words that recognize that unless God is in it, our best efforts lead to naught. They are, from that perspective, two words that combine the sovereignty of God with our own intentionality and effort.

“Who knows?”

These words keep us in the posture of humility and they are two words we would do well to remember as we make our attempts to do things for the sake of God’s kingdom.

So go ahead. Share the gospel. Start the ministry. Give of your resources. Do it because you know, in the broadest sense, that the action is the right thing even if you don’t know the way it will turn out. Because who knows? Perhaps your action will be the spark that the Lord has intended to use all along.

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