Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Go to the Ant

In my last post I shared a dream I recently had that I feel applies to our current national and worldwide economic situation. If you have not read that post, it would be helpful to read it before you read this one, although this does stand on its own. In the dream I believe the Lord was speaking to me about a generation of people that will rise above the current economic patterns and habits that have been so prevalent in our history. Much of the financial pressure we are currently experiencing results from greed and irresponsible financial management. I believe the Lord is currently preparing a generation of people who will choose to conduct themselves differently than what is commonly accepted in our society. In this post I want to share a practical principle from the Bible that can help us as we begin to become this generation. This principle can be found in numerous passages, but one of the more common is Proverbs 6:6-8:

Go the the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise. Which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.

The Lord has given us some very clear examples in nature that we would all be wise to consider. Ants are known to be hard workers, but their approach to their resources is also noteworthy. As they work, they continually set aside their surplus to be used later. Many other animals have the same practice. Squirrels, mice, alligators and even mountain lions store up food for a time when resources are more scarce. Humans are generally thought to be more intelligent than all the other animals in creation, but we could stand to learn quite a bit from wildlife. There have been times when storing up resources during times of surplus was the regular practice, but for many, this has become a thing of the past. We badly need to recover this.

There is an old saying that you "should make hay while the sun shines." That phrase was probably coined by a farmer who understood all too well that it does rain from time to time. When it's raining, you obviously can't make hay, but your livestock still needs to eat. Farmers may best understand the need to set aside surplus resources. I observed this first hand growing up with two Paw Paws who were farmers. Both of these men had multiple gardens and raised some livestock (all of this in addition to working full-time jobs, by the way). They both had freezers and shelves filled with frozen food and canned goods. At any given time, they probably had enough food on hand to last for several months. For these men, and many more like them, to not have reserves on hand would never cross their mind. This was their way of life, and largely because the grocery stores were not as accessible for them as they are for us today. Most of us just run to the grocery store whenever we need something, and there is probably not enough food in our home to last much more than a week.

This kind of lifestyle has worked for many of us because the grocery store is just right around the corner and whatever we need is probably on the store shelves. However, what would happen if the stores suddenly weren't as accessible to us as they are right now. What if we couldn't get to them, or what if we got there to find the shelves empty?

The majority of our stores operate on a "just in time" inventory system. This means that they don't have a significant stock room, instead, they only have enough inventory on hand to fill the shelves and every few days a truck arrives with just enough to replenish those shelves. This has worked up to this point, but if anything were to ever delay the trucks, our store shelves would be empty in a very short period of time. If there were ever a natural disaster, a major labor strike or a fuel shortage (or maybe I should say "the next time there is a fuel shortage"), these trucks could be delayed indefinitely, which means our food supplies would be stuck in a warehouse many miles from the store shelves. Here in the Carolinas where I live, we merely have to hear a rumor that we may see some snow flurries and there is no bread or milk to be found anywhere in town. This often gets laughs from my friends in the north, but it exposes the reality of the lack of stock in our grocery stores!

So, with all this being the case, what do we do? Do we dig root cellars and line our garages with shelves so we can store up hundreds of gallons of water and 500 cans of pork and beans? Do we buy a farm out in the country so we can plant food, raise chickens and shoot anyone that comes on our property? Do we do nothing and trust that the FEMA trucks will bring us bottled water and bagged lunches in the event that anything ever does happen? I think the answer may be different for everybody, and we have to seek the Lord for our own personal direction. There will be some that He will lead to have a farm, grow food and raise livestock. There will be others for whom the appropriate preparation will be to have an emergency supply on hand to hold them over if they were ever unable to buy what they need for a time. Whatever our course of action needs to be, and however it may vary from someone else's, the worst thing we can do is to sit back and do nothing. There is much wisdom in the old adage that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. We need to go the the ant!

Again, the important thing is to seek the Lord on a personal level and then do our best to be obedient to His leading in our lives. As we do this, He may choose to speak in a wide variety of ways, and one of the most common will undoubtedly be His written word. We should all bear in mind that His written word exhorts us to go to the ant and learn from her ways. Whether we are the ones who will have the farm, a freezer full of deer meat or just some canned goods and jugs of water in the basement, we need to follow the example of the ant and wisely prepare for times of lack while we are experiencing times of surplus. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but it is really much easier than many of us think. In my next post, I am going to share a few practical steps for creating a supply of food and water to sustain us for a season should it ever become necessary. My way is certainly not the only way, and it is probably not the best way, but it is the way that has worked for my family. You may find a way that works much better for you, but I am at least going to share a practical way to start.

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