This morning I was looking at one of my favorite verses as I prepare for a small group discussion/study on how we care ACT in ways that promote justice (check back for tomorrow's blog on that topic) and one translation included a footnote indicating some scholars translate a portion of the verse to read "walk humbly with your God" and others might translate it "walk prudently with your God".
I would so love to have a discussion with one of the scholars who recommended this footnote because it sounds like an American politician (I'm not sufficiently familiar with other kinds to say "uniquely American") who wants to hedge against hard truths.
Dictionary.com defines prudent as "acting with or showing care and thought for the future." You see, I do not believe God expects us to be prudent in this sense. Oh, God certainly calls us to not be foolish. But God also makes it clear that we are creatures of the moment because as we exist at this time in this place in eternity our time here is infinitesimal. Even if the most modest ideas that we have been here for around 10,000 years is used our 70 or 80 or 90 years is a blink of an eternal eye and estimates the earth has been around between 4-5 billion years (according to National Geographic) and humans between 4 and 55 million years (various by source) make it even more striking that human life expectancy leaves us with a VERY narrow margin for making much of a difference in the larger picture. This means that what we DO with each moment has great weight.
This future orientation does not to me seem at all what God tells us to be. God says we are here with God's intent, created with purpose and what we do and who we are matters. So I believe that what we do, for good or evil, matters, often in ways we can't begin to understand on our own. Because of this I am personally as 'ALL IN" as I know how to be. I can't see the future and the older I get the more I understand the treacherous nature of acting as though I can.
As one son graduated from college and announced he was going to teach in South America, I remember commenting that the fastest growing Spanish speaking population was one state over in Iowa. I could see all the problems with his delaying his "adult life of work and marriage and children" because he was indulging his fascination with travel. It did not help that while I have enjoyed traveling when life took me in that direction I have never experienced a longing to travel. And the thought of him finding a wife and building a family on another continent was just depressing. But now, a couple of decades later, I can only say God had a much better plan than I did. He still lives on another continent but God has such better plans for him that I could have ever conceived. His life blesses his family (Thank you God for the WhatsApp app) from afar and also blesses his amazing family (including his wife who he met while working in Asia and two amazing children born in South America) and his students and their families, colleagues and neighbors in South America. I am so grateful he humbly heeded God's call (in part revealed by his inborn need for travel) and ignored my limited human view of "prudent."
See, this is why I read lots of translations! It refines my thinking, opens my heart to new ideas from God and directs my thoughts to all with which I am abundantly blessed to the degree I am humble, remembering that God has plans that are infinitely better than my own.