Trusting in Prudence

“The butterfly counts not months, but moments, and yet has time enough.” Anon

I’ve always wondered why Doris and I ever went to Brazil for in many ways it never made any sense. We knew no Portuguese, had no Brazilian and little Canadian money, knew not one person in Brazil, nobody to meet us there and had no idea where to go when we arrived. In any case I do believe in God’s guidance. But when I read an article by Myrto Theocharous in Christianity Today, her insights filled in much of the blanks in my thinking. The title, “Prudence is Overrated.”

If Doris and I had been prudent at all, we would never have considered going to Brazil as missionaries. But that might have set us to wasting away the biggest and most dramatic adventures in life. We had every reason to think twice about venturing into something for which we were totally unprepared. Prudence would have nudged us away from the drama of ministry in another land, Brazil.

With a little baby to care for it is obvious we could not live on a São Paulo street corner. But prudence might have paralyzed our spirits. We’d then have said “no” to what later proved to the unfolding of perhaps the greatest period of our family’s life. I was just out of seminary and as look back I would say that I was not yet dry behind the ears. But dropped into the interior of Brazil forced us to grow up, to learn to fit into that society and into Christian ministry. We learned lessons in weeks that otherwise might have taken a lifetime to imprint on our thinking.

It is true that the secular society of to-day claims control of what we might call the good life. That would include income, health, prosperity, marriage and life’s comforts. In other words the world around us demands power over our future all in the name of prudence. The world promises that if secular ideals manage our lives then everything the world offers will fall into one’s lap. The secular mind sets the rules–prudence is the way to go.

Doris and I had many reasons to be prudent instead of listening to God’s call. Doris had her R.N. with added studies in psychiatry; I had my M.Div that with a few years of experience might have given me a prospering church somewhere. Between us we could have been quite secure in every way. Prudence pointed the way.

But God claims this world as his own, first through creation and then through the price He paid at the cross. So when Doris and I both felt deeply the divine call to a totally unknown future in Brazil, we trusted implicitly that he had control of the future. God’s control of the future—our future—encouraged us to place our bets on His future for us. Added in were risk, adventure, imagination and change.

There is always the sense of risk in God’s call. Even with all the faith we can muster in God’s leadership, still it is terrifying to rely only on trust in Him. That is so true from the moment He first calls for us to follow Him. It is true for all of the Christian life so that often prudence must be cast aside.

That faith in God’s calling to Brazil meant that we understand His control of our future. We believed that our family with all its unknown circumstances were in God’s hands. That fact becomes evident as you have read this blog, the story our time and ministry in Brazil. Every obstacle had a solution; every heartache and frustration had a consolation. As I put this blog down on paper the mystery and wisdom of God’s guidance stand out in “bas relief.” I now see that prudence was never the way to go. To trust totally the future into God’s hands may not be wise according to our world. But it is both the smart and most successful way to live. My experience in this life tells me that I can trust God for all eternity.

An old hymn says it better than I ever can. “Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go;

Anywhere he leads me in this world below,

Anywhere without him dearest joys would fade,

Anywhere with Jesus I am not afraid.”

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