The story is told of five doctors went duck shooting one day. Included in the group were a general practitioner, a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, a surgeon and a pathologist. After a time, a bird came flying overhead. The first to react was the GP who raised his shotgun, but then hesitated. "I'm not quite sure it's a duck," he said. "I think that I will have to get a second opinion." And of course by that time, the bird was long gone.

Another bird appeared in the sky thereafter. This time the pediatrician drew a bead on it. He too, however, was unsure if it was really a duck in his sights and besides, it might have babies. "I'll have to do some more investigations," he muttered, as the creature made good its escape.

Next to spy a bird flying was the sharp-eyed psychiatrist. Shotgun shouldered, he was more certain of his intended prey's identity. "Now, I know it's a duck, but does it know it's a duck?" The fortunate bird disappeared while the fellow wrestled with this dilemma.

Finally, a fourth fowl sped past and this time the surgeon's weapon pointed skywards. BOOM!! The surgeon lowered his smoking gun and turned nonchalantly to the pathologist beside him: "Go see if that was a duck, will you?"

We've all been guilty at times of shooting first and asking questions later. That's why we have the proverb, "Look before you leap." Of course, we also have a proverb which tells us of the danger in delay: "He who hesitates is lost." So which is it? Which is the wiser advice?

If you look to God's Word for the answer, you may end up just as confused:

"How long will you lie there, you lazy person? When will you get up from sleeping?" (Proverbs 6:9. NCV).

["T]hose who act too quickly become poor" (Proverbs 21:5b NCV).

The truth is, there's danger in both extremes. It is necessary to look ahead and plan before taking action — Jesus called that "counting the cost." However, we also have to be careful not to procrastinate so much that we never get anything accomplished. It is a wise man indeed who can find the proper balance. The most important thing is to seek after the way of God and trust him to help us:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6 TNIV).

Heavenly Father, I freely confess there have been many times in my life when I have been paralyzed by analyzing the situation, and have failed to step forward in faith as you would have me to. And I also recognize the many times I have wildly plunged ahead without giving much thought to what I was doing, and later regretted my actions. Bless me with the wisdom to live with the proper balance in my life. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who always knew what to do and when to do it. Amen.

So which is it?