Monday, February 20, 2012

Dear Prudence, Won’t You Come Out to Play

Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all your thy getting, get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

I wisdom dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion.
Proverbs 8:12

As I write this the words from an old Rod Stewart song, which are so appropriate for this post, come to mind.

“I sincerely believed I was so complete. Look how wrong you can be”.

It is possible to find kernels of truth in the most unusual places and at the most opportune times.

Proverbs 4:7 states “Wisdom is the principle thing”, therefore, getting wisdom should be the most important undertaking of our lives. Early on in my Christian walk, I decided to make this my endeavor. I wanted to learn everything I could about God and the Bible. My goal was to be a walking, talking vault of knowledge, possessing a plethora of facts from important details to seemingly trivial minutia. I approached gaining wisdom as an intellectual pursuit, not necessarily learning truth that could change my life. I wanted to be a “Bible scholar”. Pardon me as I stick my finger down my throat and gag at this thought. Feel free to participate if you wish. Somehow I developed the idea that acquiring more and more knowledge would, somehow by osmosis, change me without any real effort on my part. And it did, but not in the way I had planned. I became the person described in James 1:22 – a person who hears the Word but does not do it and winds up deceived. And I was. In fact, I had become quite a modern day Pharisee. I pursued the letter of the law that kills and ignored the spirit of the law that gives life. Ouch! Chad and Jeremy once sang, “Yes, the truth often hurts the heart.” It is painful to admit this mistake that wound up costing me so much, but it is the truth. Fortunately for me, and the rest of the world, I never went to Bible school. I could have easily become more of an intellectual snob, and even less in tune with the spiritual than I had accomplished on my own. Please don’t send any hate mail, I am speaking only about myself and not the many that have gone this route and thrived.

Proverbs 8:2 says that Wisdom has a roommate whose name is Prudence. I equated that name with the Pilgrims and the Puritans. That name brought to my mind the picture of a character straight out of Gary Larson’s “The Far Side”. Huge, hulking and hunchbacked, Prudence had a countenance resembling the prunes she needed to relieve her intestinal congestion! Puritans always struck me as a very somber lot, terminally serious, with little or no time for levity or frivolity. Considering they left the then known civilized world, endured a long, difficult and dangerous voyage and built a whole new life from scratch could explain their serious disposition. When we see or even experience a natural disaster that forces people to totally rebuild their lives, there are resources the Pilgrims never had. We have Home Depot and Lowes, FEMA (jury is out on that one), the Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse and many other charitable organizations to step in and assist in the reconstruction process. The Pilgrims had God, themselves, the Indians and a determination to build a life where freedom to worship God as they saw fit was possible. No wonder they were so narrowly focused and disciplined.

The Hebrew word for prudence is intriguing. It has two almost diametrically opposed meanings. Only when used in the book of Proverbs does prudence mean to have good judgment and to be sensible. When used elsewhere its meaning has the negative connotations of being crafty, shrewd, wily or simple in terms of being easily persuaded, gullible, immature and naive.

I do not remember there being a single, defining, “aha” moment that made me aware of the hole I had dug for myself. I did begin to experience a real dissatisfaction with my walk with God. I felt that something was missing and that there had to be more than what I knew. I read a book authored by A.W. Kenyon where he discussed the difference between sense knowledge evidence, mental assent and real Bible faith. Sense knowledge evidence says; “Seeing is believing.” Faith says “Believing is seeing.” Mental assent is intellectually agreeing with what you know, but not practically applying what you have learned. This is a safe way to live. You rarely make mistakes because you seldom attempt anything, because, that would take faith – and it is faith that pleases God.

Slowly I realized that the knowledge I had acquired could be a strong foundation, if I would build on it. This is where I needed to get acquainted with Wisdom’s friend Prudence. I needed to learn how to put faith to work; to take it from just being a theory and putting it into practice. Faith is active, not passive. Faith is now, not sometime in the past or just for the future. Faith includes fighting, standing, resisting, trusting and at times resting. Faith speaks a desired end, not what presently exists, with the expectation that its declarations will come to pass. Faith must be exercised in order to grow and become strong. Faith is a gift from God, given to each one of us. Gradually it dawned on me that, “he who knows the most, spiritually speaking, does not win.” He who applies what he knows succeeds. Wisdom has the answers and directions we need. Prudence provides the road map for the course Wisdom has laid out for us.

I still seek wisdom, because, it will never stop being the principle thing, however, this is no longer just an intellectual pursuit. I do study and strive for accuracy but I am really searching for the spirit and not the letter of the law. On the way to Wisdom’s house, I catch myself singing this tune.

Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day.
The sun is up, the sky is blue. It’s beautiful, and so are you.
Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?

1 comment:

  1. Applying to life what God reveals through wisdom in His Word is the only way to live this Christian life successfully and to benefit others along the journey. Mary, I appreciate your candor concerning not wanting to be "puffed up" with knowledge. It reminded me of Romans 8:1, "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up".