“I admit I was a little preoccupied during church Sunday morning.” Duane jostled his coffee cup nervously. “We’ve lost over $10,000 off my retirement plan at work with all that’s been going on in this crazy economy. But I got riled up in a hurry when I heard the preacher’s sermon.”
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“Well, he started preaching against having wealth at all, it sounded like to me.”
“Oh, no, Duane, that wasn’t what he meant.” Diane started picking up the dishes.
“I’ll help you with that.” Survival Sally jumped up, blond curls bobbing.
“That really was a wonderful roast beef dinner Diane,” Survival Sam said as he leaned back a little. “The cheesecake was marvelous.”
“Thank you,” Diane called back. “Glad you liked it.”
“Did your preacher have a certain Bible passage he spoke from,” I asked Duane.
“It was a parable in the Gospel of Luke I think.” Duane got up and shuffled some papers on a nearby countertop. “It was Luke 12:16-23 according to the church bulletin.”
Sam put on his reading glasses and pulled out his pocket New Testament. “I’ll read it for us and maybe we can discuss it a little….Oh, here it is.” He cleared his throat. The ladies stopped clattering dishes.
“Here’s what it says. Luke 12:16-23. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.. And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.”
“See there?” Duane said. “Doesn’t that sound like fodder for a tirade against having wealth?”
“I don’t know what your pastor said about it, Duane.” Sam spoke softly and reassuringly.
“I don’t know if I could tell you either.” Duane blushed a little. “He said so much that didn’t seem relevant to the passage. I think he used it as a jumping off point, but he sure railed against the rich.”
“I think some of the people there needed that,” Diane chimed in as she took her seat again at the table.
“that’s in line with what I was just about to say,” Sam said. “Did it occur to you that your pastor wasn’t preaching to you, Duane?”
“Well, I hadn’t thought of it that way. I just assumed everything the preacher says is for all of us.”
“You could build up a lot of false guilt and resentment thinking that way when you go to church,” Sam said. “I suspect he had a certain segment of the audience in mind when he prepared his message. You just happened to be in the firing line.”
“I tried to tell him that,” Diane said, “but he wouldn’t listen to me.”
“But, Sam, the preacher ridiculed people like us who are stocking up on survival supplies. What about what the Bible says in 1 Timothy about providing for your family.
“Good point,” I said.
“All right, ladies and gentlemen, let’s look at that.” Sam tore off a piece of paper napkin to bookmark the Luke 12 passage and leafed through his Testament pages. “Here’s what 1 Timothy 5:8 says. But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” He looked up at Duane. “Let me ask you a few questions, keeping the Luke 12 passage in mind here at the same time. Let’s get to the hart of things. I know you’re a believer in Christ as your Savior, Duane, so you’re assured of being prepared for ‘the next world,’ as some people like to put it. And the same is true of your wife and children, right?”
“That’s more likely the main thrust of your pastor’s message,” Sam said. “It’s what Jesus was emphasizing in His parable. However, I do find it disconcerting when pastors and well meaning Christians seem to think it has to be one or the other. Why can’t we be open minded enough to be prepared for this world and the next? They’re not mutually exclusive.”
“Amen!” said Diane.
“Now, having said that, Duane, let me ask you this. Why do you have a retirement plan at work?”
Duane flinched. “Well, I thought I was providing for my family.”
“And so you are,” Sam said. “Mind you, I’m not criticizing you for having the plan, but you can see it’s not wise to count on it alone for survival in the future. You’re not adopting the proud attitude of the rich man who couldn’t find enough room to put his wealth, are you?”
“No, of course not.”
“It is a little frightening to lose so much in such a short time,” said Diane. “It’ll take years for it to come back, if it ever does.”
“That’s why everybody tells you that you should diversify your investments,” Sally said.
“I thought we had.” Duane looked downcast.
“It goes beyond mutual funds and the like,” said Sam. “You’ve started buying long term storage food in the past few months, haven’t you?”
“Yes, and camping supplies, too,” Duane said. “Diane and the kids started a nice little garden this year, and I’ve even started buying a box of ammunition every now and then for barter, just like you said, Sam.”
“Very good. Don’t you think all those are worthwhile investments?”
“I suppose they are,” said Duane. “I just hadn’t quite thought of them as being part of my diversified investment portfolio.”
“Money man Jim Cramer said the other day that you should get out of the stock market if you can’t keep your money there for five years or more,” I said. “Talk show host Dave Ramsey said he agrees with that. What do you say about that, Sam?”
“As for things like Duane’s retirement plan, there’s not much you can do right now, unless you want to incur a lot of hefty penalties by pulling it out. Let it do whatever it’s going to do, and put anything you can into the things you and your family need.” Sam took a sip of coffee. “Mind you, you’re not trying to get rich. You’re endeavoring to provide for your family. That’s being prudent.”
“I was thinking about this, Sam. If I spend money on storage food, as good as that is, what if the money and the food are both gone before five years is out?” said Duane.
“Oh, hon, take one day at a time," Sally interjected. "You’ll all be alive if you work at it, maybe when other poor souls won’t be.”.
“Exactly,” said Sam.