Prudence will watch over you . . .--Proverbs 2:11a
We think of it as looking ahead - anticipating the problems or the consequences. Exercising foresight. Counting the cost before beginning the project. We also think of it as restrictive - keeping us from acting with the abandon that is chomping at the bit within us. It's prudent to choose a car we can afford - but we want the new BMW sports car. To choose prudence is to limit our irresponsibility. It's prudent to choose the best school for the field we want to enter - but we want to attend the school that is nearby our family. To choose prudence is to limit our personal fulfillment. Exercising prudence makes us feel as constricted as a prude - as tight and narrow as a Victorian woman with hair bound in a bun and face as taut as a stretched canvas. Perhaps prudence will watch over us, but we're not sure that is such an enviable thing, after all.
Partly this is because of our understanding of the word. Actually, prudence does not come from the word prude but from the word provident/providence. It is grounded in the concept of God's loving and beneficent care. When prudence watches over us, it is anything but restrictive - it is reckless! God's providence is so extravagant that we can barely take in even its tiniest corners. We have only to take a walk in the night, crane our necks to the sky and espy the twinkling host of small diamonds hanging protectively over the creation to sense God's prudence - God's providence. We have only to look over the landscape of our unfinished life and count the tatters that have been stitched into brocade to sense God's prudence - God's providence. God is ever prudent with us, and when we are prudent we, like God, offer beneficent care upon all of creation. We look ahead, we anticipate the problems and consequences, we exercise foresight, we count the cost, not because we are stingy, but because we want to be lavish in our attention toward others. It only takes a heart full of love that longs to give love away. Prudence will watch over you, and your prudence will watch over others.
O God, your care trickles unceasingly into my parched soul like snow melting and dripping slowly into the mountain crevices before filling the mountain streams. My revived spirit gives you thanks.
These reflections by Renee Miller first appeared at www.explorefaith.org
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