With the fall, comes a sense of needing to get prepared. Whether its simply evaluating what winter clothes are needed, or cutting back plants and flowers in the garden, there are many things that must be done to prepare for the winter.
My prayer and plan is, Lord willing, next year I would grow enough to harvest and can for the following winter.
However, that is not the kind of preparing that has been on my heart lately.
There is a potential for an economic disaster (maybe its a reality, and no longer a potential. I have to admit, in my area of the country, the economy is pretty good. Houses continue to sell. My husband, who is in the building industry, just received a lot of work; he was told that the people in their company do not need to worry about losing their jobs! All that to say, is often times I wonder if this is all media-driven worry). I read of many stocking up their pantries and getting other things in line, similar to what many did for Y2K. I don't suppose that is a terrible idea.
However, that is not the kind of preparing that has been on my heart lately.
I'm talking about spiritual preparedness. The Bible tells us in Matthew to not worry about what we will eat or where we will live or what we will wear. How God takes care of the birds and the flowers, that fade away, how much more He will take care of us - His children. I think most Christians know of this passage, yet don't lean on it like a crutch, like their lives depend on this. Do you have a child who is a worrier? My oldest is - cut from the same cloth as I. It is so easy for me to reassure him he has no need to worry - I know the end result so many times and I know he has absolutely no reason. Sometimes I even chuckle, because I know, I KNOW, everything is gonna be allright!
You know what? God knows my end result, and He knows that I have no need to worry. I need to just stay snuggled in my Father's arms, trusting in Him. If I can offer my imperfect assurance to my son, surely I can rest in God's perfect assurance!
I know there are families who are out of work. My heart and prayers go out to you. Right now though, I want to speak to those, to me, who still have income, where life is really no different than 5 years ago when the economy was not a worry as it is today.
What if your husband was to come home today, and was laid off. If you work, what if, you were laid off today. What would happen if, your car broke down and you had not one cent or open credit to get it fixed. What if, your husband became terribly ill and you lost his income. What if, your home was foreclosed on. What if ____________ (fill in the blank).
Would you be prepared spiritually to be confident in Your Father to know that He will take care of you, His child? Would you be spiritually strong enough to cast all your cares upon Him? Would you start blaming God for taking these things from you and lose faith completely? Or would your faith only become stronger knowing that God refines and builds us through trials.
While I think it is very good to prepare yourself for the future, over the last few years we've been doing that - we relocated to a different part of the country where the cost of living was less, we sold my husband's car so as not to have any car payments, among other things - this all is for nothing, if I think I'm in control of my future. I am not in any way, shape or form, in control of my future.
I can prepare my family until I'm blue in the face - have a perfectly stocked pantry - have no debt - have savings to carry my family through a lifetime - but if I'm not leaning on God, and His promises, none of this will do me any good, no matter how good these things are in and of themselves.
So, instead of watching or reading the news, hearing how terrible our world economy is, let's pray to God, throughout our entire days; let's read His Word daily, seeing all the promises of provision and protection He has for His children (for me and for you if you are a believer) - let's get on our knees with our children casting all our fears upon Him. Read this post from Jewels at Eyes of Wonder, a sister in Christ for more on that.
And after we've done this, let's chose to be a little blissfully ignorant, and take our time to learn other things that will in fact get us through the tough times if or when they hit. Things like cooking from scratch, cutting back on electricity and gas, etc. I think there is nothing wrong with being blissfully ignorant on worldly matters - believe me, it is impossible to not know what's going on with the economy and such - I trust that I will find out the information I need when I need to.
Evaluate what is truly a need. A friend of mine and I did this a few weeks ago when she was over for coffee. Here is a little list that we came up with (and I'm sure some would disagree - that's okay in times of real need I don't think there can be an argument that these are not needs! I think others can also add to the list, and would appreciate if you did!):
Haircuts and colors are not needs. Think of the long romantic hair of the old days - personally I love that, and I know my husband, and it seems other men, like that too :) My friend and I know many large, single-income families where the wife and the girls never get haircuts, and they have simply beautiful hair!
Men shaving is not a need. I wouldn't mind if my husband stopped shaving :) He grew a goatee (sp?) many years ago, and I thought he looked rugged and handsome :) Do you pay attention to how expensive razors are? **By the way, as I was going about my day, it occurred to me that some may take this and go suggest to their husbands that you will no longer be buying razors! NO! I'm not suggesting that in the tiniest of bits! I would never dream of telling a hardworking man, one who more than likely brings in the bacon, or at least his share, and telling him what he should do in this or really any area. We were just making an observation!**
TV and computers are not a need. I hope there is no defense needed there!
Magazines are not a need. I think this reason is what got me hooked on blogs! View some of the beautiful blogs on my side bar - and when you are at their blogs, look at the blogs they have listed. Simple and beautiful.
Two cars are not a need. Have you ever lived for even a few weeks with one car? When we sold my husband's car, and before we bought his little "beater" (it is a good car, one that we thank God for), I would either take my husband to work or he'd take the van. Thankfully I was already used to being home a lot, so it wasn't a shock to my life, but had it been 5 years ago, boy that would have been a great lesson for me! I was most certainly under the impression then that I had to have a car - what if I needed to bring the kids to the doctors? Oh the worry! Well then, if it was that bad, I'm sure my husband would have come home anyway!
Buying name brand food is not a need. I've returned to shopping at Aldi. You just cannot beat the prices there for perfectly fine food. Yesterday I just spent $98 for one week of groceries. Included in the $98 was tissues and some food to give to a local food bank that will be providing Thanksgiving meals for families in need. I will have to purchase a gallon or two of milk, but that still falls well below our weekly budget. There are some items that I struggle with buying store brand - but I have to prepare myself to either go without it, or to buy the store brand (or to take the time to cut coupons, something which I do not have a good handle on whatsoever like so many, very wise women do!)
New clothes are not a need. God has blessed us tremendously with this. An old friend recently asked how on earth I am able to stay home with three, soon to be four, children. I think many assume my husband makes oodles of money. He doesn't. The Lord provides, just enough, and its up to us to be good stewards of that. One huge way that the Lord provides for us, is through hand-me-down clothes. Almost all of my maternity clothes are hand-me-downs. I also am not hesitant nor ashamed to go to Salvation Army if need be. With the extra money I had left from the grocery budget yesterday, I bought all this for $15.00 at the Salvation Army. The Lord is so good!
A vest for my oldest son, a maternity jean skirt (new with tags!), a knitted, 100% wool winter hat for me, and three pairs of pants for my daughter to wear under her dresses this winter. Certainly this isn't the best price of all (free is the best price!), but my point is, even at a discount store like Walmart, I could not have picked up clothing with this quality for $15.00. So, new clothing is not a need.
However, what is a need, is to prepare my spiritual life to be ready to weather the storms that are inevitable, whether or not the economy is bad. As I read God's Word, I am more able to think what God would think of as needs, and pare down my expectations accordingly.
Remember, while all things are possible with God, that is not a promise that it will be comfortable, at least in our sense of comfortable.