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Recently I found something like this statement in the margin of my Bible: "Sometimes wisdom, rather than being an ultimate thing, is simply knowing what to do next." This was an immediate kind of wisdom as distinguished from an ultimate kind. It reminded me of the definition of the old fashioned word 'pruidence" as a practical, daily kind of wisdom. Prudence like its cousin Temperance was a fairly common female name in 17th and 18th century New England. Now these words, largely relegated to the verbal ash heap, call to mind abstinence from sex or alcohol, which is but a shadow of their original substance. Prudence originally extended itself as practical wisdom in areas from sexuality to finance, to business to professional ethics, to family relationships. Temperance, too, meant self control and moderation (not necessarily straight abstinence) in any area of life where there was some kind of appetite involved, not merely food or drink but shopping, conversation, sports or what-have-you. But Molly used to be labelled a "prude" because she didn't let boys have their own way, and her grandmother was active in the Women's Temperance Union so don't mention beer around her. Today, though, the world is crying out more than ever for what to do next. How many are pondering and puzzling over their next step this very moment. Two thousand tears (and years) ago a group of apostles had their own version of this dilemma. They were despairing over the execution of their beloved Messiah and drawn to return to the familiar, their former occupation of fishing. They encounter their risen Lord who leads them to the fishing trip of their dreams. The result was a catch they could not possibly contain and an indelible memory, for it was to be their last fishing trip and it was the best. They were going out on top with an act that was impossible to follow. That way Jesus chose to begin an entirely new play, fishing for people this time, doing the thing that came next. Come to think of it, it's the old headlight principle: only what's needful at the time is illuminated.
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