Cable television is filled with ‘reality’ programming which focuses on so-called normal people from various subsets of the culture. A few of them, like Doomsday Preppers and Castle Builders, explore the lives of Americans who are formulating their plans to survive the end of civilization as we know it. This subculture includes people who are amassing all kinds of supplies, altering their lifestyles, and investing thousands of dollars to prepare themselves for natural, biological, economic or social disasters of all kinds. The scenarios they are attempting to survive are varied, ranging from science fiction staples like electromagnetic pulses, global cyber-attacks, and solar geo-magnetic storms, to more historically-based possibilities such as another super-flu pandemic, economic collapse or naturally occurring disasters like devastating volcanos or tsunamis. I even read about one family who feared the earth’s magnetic poles will swap places causing pervasive climate changes.
As you might expect, for the emergency preppers, large stockpiles of food, water, and medical supplies are at the top of their lists of provisions, however their strategies go far beyond those basic necessities. Plans to build underground bunkers, for getting “off the grid” and “bugging out” of large urban areas are also common. I saw one guy who had his house turned into practically an impenetrable fortress, complete with a small arsenal of weapons, shatter proof windows and a military style security gate. Another man focused most of his efforts on maintaining his food supply by developing his own hydroponics garden. He also farmed worms to enrich his plants, feed fish and even eat if necessary. (Yes, he demonstrated! Blek!)
So what do you think about people like this? Is what they do a rational course of action considering the unpredictability of our world these days? Or are they paranoid and slightly unbalanced? What does God’s Word have to say about planning for the unknown? Well, I’d like to tackle this question in two parts. This week I want to touch on what I see as main trap to avoid when we set out prepare for the future. Next week, we’ll address what it means to “trust in the Lord.”
Storing up for Yourself
In Luke 12, Jesus told the crowd of followers a parable about a rich man who built larger and larger barns to store his surplus crops. Once he thought his provision and future were taken care of, he planned to relax and enjoy the rest of his life. The surprise ending was that He died suddenly and none of what he had saved was of any value to him. Jesus gives us the point of the story in verse 21. He said, “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
While the main message of this teaching is to caution us against focusing only on temporal concerns to the neglect of eternity, even spiritually-minded people can make the same errant assumption that this man did. …
He confused surplus with security.
He assessed his stability mainly in terms of how much he could gather and save up for himself.
While you may not put yourself in the same category as this man or the ‘e-preppers,’ remember that many mainstream believers do essentially the same thing by stuffing financial ‘barns’ (aka, 401k, retirement, and pension plans) to insure future security for themselves and their families. Now, am I saying it’s wrong to prepare and save for the future? Absolutely not! Having your financial house in order and some things stored for a potential crisis is a wise course of action that’s prescribed in the scriptures. In fact, it’s foolish not to be prepared. (Be back next week for more on that!)
The real question to consider is not what or how you save, but why you save. If your preparations are so that you can cut your dependence on social institutions to be able to better serve God and be free to follow His leading (which would include helping others in their time of need), then by all means, store and save! But be careful to guard your motivations. Ask yourself… Is your stockpile of money or supplies what you’re counting on to see you through the days ahead? Has God essentially become “Plan B” if your other preparations fall through? Remember that sometimes the better prepared we think we are, the more tempted we can be to rely on ourselves. And God never wants us to look to anything as our source of confidence besides Him.
Real security isn’t based on our bank balance or how well our pantries are stocked. Real security is found only in the Lord. He is our rescuer, defender and shield. Our trust must be in Him alone. (Ps.. 18:2; 2 Sam. 22:31) As you decide how to make any preparations for the future, be sure to lean on the Lord first, and He will give you a love and security that will never leave you empty.
He holds victory in store for the upright,
He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for He guards the course of the just
and protects the way of His faithful ones.