By Robert Foster
Should a Christian store up food and supplies in preparation for the days ahead, or should we simply trust the Lord and not do anything for the welfare of our household?
Over the years, I’ve heard a variety of people offer their advice on this subject.
Many seem to have the idea that to store away any supplies shows a profound lack of faith and possibly some hidden sin causing you not to place your trust in the Lord.
While others take an opposite, extreme approach and build secret bunkers for the “end of the world,” while treating other people like the crazy uncle who never understands anything.
In reality, the truth lies somewhere between those two roads. My wife and I came from families that grew much of their own food. Throughout our years of marriage, it was not uncommon to have the majority of the food in our pantry and freezer come from what we grew ourselves or raised in our barn.
We often had a nice supply of four to eight sheep, one steer, about ten to thirty chickens and maybe a goat that we would process into various cuts of meat or homemade sausage. We kept a lot of this food and also gave away a lot of it. It was what we knew. That is just what we were raised doing.
Often we felt that what we were growing or buying from the store was not merely for our own needs. Many times Kathy would get a strong impression that we needed to buy a surplus of something only to give some or all of it away at a later time. The most classic example was the year before we moved from Washington State to South Carolina. We nearly filled our two large freezers and filled almost every jar with something we grew that year. But when we moved, we could not take this food with us. So we divided it among two people we knew. Later we learned of their great need: one person suffered with a health issue and the other experienced a serious reduction of their finances for three months. They had no other options. The food we gave sustained them.
The secret for us and what we tell other people is, “What is the Lord leading you to do?” Our God is a personal God, and He personally wants to lead you in the days ahead. One person may be required to store things that their neighbor is not called to store. In other words, if the Spirit is tugging on you to acquire hand tools, then canned beans is not the direction you need to go in a future barter economy.
What about these crazy preppers—is it even biblically right to do that?
Yes, one of the best examples from Scripture would be Noah, you could even call him Noah the super-prepper. First thing he did was to put his hope in God, not in food, blankets, or weapons. It is obvious that he first believed what the Lord told him, and he trusted that there would be an earth to live on after the flood. Then, he considered the things he would need in a world populated by only eight people, with little diversity of skills and no infrastructure to support the technologically advanced civilization he had become accustomed to. From what I have read, experts think he might have had as many as 2,000 animals on his ark. In Genesis 6:21(NIV) The Lord tells Noah, “You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” That means he had to put into planning how eight people would care for the diverse needs of his floating barn and what they were to eat.
Storing up food is not a new thing. It’s been a part of nearly every culture on earth. The Lord considers people wise who do these things. Proverbs 21:20 NIV “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” See the contrast between foolish and wise. One has reserves while the other devours. Webster’s Dictionary defines devour as, to eat greedily, quickly gobbling it down.
Only recently has the mindset of our culture shifted so greatly. What is now considered normal in this country is to rely on someone else to provide for you during an emergency. Most of our culture is incredibly self-centered, and it affects how we view the world we see. For instance, when we walk into a large grocery store, our eyes see the vast amount of food everywhere. We see abundance. Subconsciously we know that “I could never eat all this.” But that image is deceiving because we don’t take into account that the grocery stores only have three days worth of food on hand for the population they serve. THREE DAYS! So what’s your plan for day four?
I recommend that if you don’t have a very clear direction from the Lord to not prepare and to live by faith, then, by all means, do a little stocking up. Proverbs 27:12 says, ”A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” Prudence is often defined as “acting with or showing care and thought for the future.” You need to put some deliberate intention to your hands and feet and get a little creative.
Prudence is also often connected with wisdom. Proverbs 8:12 says, “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion.” The combination of wisdom and prudence contains the knowledge and discretion that will be needed to stock up, prepare, and live out our lives for the days ahead.
To stock up on food and supplies is not anti-faith. It can actually be considered a sign of faith for leaders and their households. Take a look at what Paul wrote to Timothy, “But if any man does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (see 1 Timothy 5:8). To provide for your own household is to have faith. To ignore the warnings and shut your eyes puts you in a classification of being worse than an unbeliever. In other words, you knew better but chose to do nothing.
So, I need to buy, like EVERYTHING?? No, please don’t.
Walking by faith means that we do not walk by fear. Fear will cause you to build bunkers, fill them with pallets of food, and guard the entrance with the biggest gun you can find. Hoarding will merely feed a poverty spirit. But walking by faith is trusting in the God who feeds thousands with a few fish and loaves. He intimately knows and loves the person who walks up to your door looking for help. A poverty spirit, empowered by greed, will hinder you from demonstrating generous acts of grace that may open people’s hearts to the love of Christ.
Some people are called to build storehouses. Others are called to travel for ministry.
To the traveling person, a storehouse of food is just a big anchor of concern and worry. Yet it is a blessing for them to find storehouses available. Both ministries are needed. Both carry blessings and are an oasis in a hot desert to people in need.