Modern day preppers and the “Preparedness” movement have taken a life of their own…ranging from the practical, to survivalist, to outright apocalyptic. I’ve had to deal with this, as well, on how I can best prepare myself and my family for that unknown “contingency”. With all the storms and weather-related disasters out there, being on the precipice of financial collapse, carrying the burden of rising prices, the looming threat of societal breakdown, and all the foreign-borne dangers prowling and testing our might and crossing our boundaries as a nation….how can you, as a normal person, prepare yourself from such a tidal wave of unexpected contingencies?
So now what?
Chapter 48 in the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon describes a dangerous time for a group of people who considered themselves believers of Christ. These were the Nephites. Dangerous…because there were powerful, influential defectors from the Nephites who had joined themselves in power and scope with a warring and blood-thirsty people. And these Nephite defectors were rallying, organizing, and riling up these warriors to battle against the Nephite population…to conquer and destroy them. Moroni was an Nephite military leader…one who followed God. He knew of their dangerous circumstances, and he needed to prepare his people to preserve themselves somehow. These are the ideas of preparation that I got out of it…
The Attitude of Peace
14 Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.
First, it’s the attitude towards an “opponent”, “intruder”, “adversary”….an “enemy”. What should be the attitude? Defend. Not attack (give an offense). You don’t raise your weapon unless it’s meant to preserve your life: You raise your sword to block the attack…not strike. And, only if really necessary, when your life or another’s life is immediately at stake, do you shed blood. Otherwise, first and foremost…you are peaceful. A Peacemaker. That was Christ’s way…even when he faced persecution, brutality, and even death (yeah, that’s the hard one). Times of distress and desperation require us to keep our wits…and remain peaceful for as long as possible.
Prosperity: A Cleared Path…to Succeed
15 And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;
16 And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; …
Prosperity doesn’t mean wealth. “To prosper” means “to be allowed to move forward, to progress”. When the Lord prospers you, He clears your path to allow you to succeed (think of Joshua’s crossing the Jordan River found in Joshua 3 in the Old Testament). In this scripture, prosperity is (1)to flee…to avoid danger or (2) to prepare for war…in order to face the danger. Why flee? Because your strengths/resources aren’t sufficient to face the danger/crisis. And the Lord needs you alive for His purposes. Why prepare for war? Because you have the ability to face the danger…and can now organize your strengths/resources to do so. For these Nephites, revelation was their source of where to go to defend themselves from their enemies…not fight them…and that would be the place, no other place, where the Lord would deliver them…where they would be prospered to stay alive.
How the Lord has raised us to be will determine how we will best address a situation…even in a desperate one. Some have been raised as hunters, some farmers, some armed, many…unarmed, some leaders, some comforters, some as watchmen, others builders…repairers…protectors…teachers…anchors…shields, etc. The time before a crisis, then, becomes the time for us to discover our gifts…which also define our roles in the Kingdom, because these gifts are what the Lord will utilize…through us…to be of help in the situations we’re in….and to manifest His power to others.
The key to the proper preparation? Revelation…communication from God. Regardless of your strengths, weaknesses, skills, acquired resources, and the people around you, the common denominator of preparation for everyone is this: learn to discern…and follow…revelation. That’s how the Lord will instruct you on how to best use what you have…and what you are…to preserve you and those around you.
Reliance…on Self? on Gadgets?
…and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.
Is this also our faith? Is this something that we really trust in? That we rely on God to be our G.P.S….to see the road ahead? Is our concern really in preserving our families and people…or is it to preserve our lifestyle…as if no crisis ever happened? Do we rely on God…or on our gadgets…to preserve us? And what is our attitude…is it “Bring it on! Come and get it! I’ll take you out!” or in being peaceful and in making sure we’re keeping ourselves qualified to receive revelation…by keeping God’s commandments and in resisting sin?
You are already Prepared.
The reward of Prosperity requires a special kind of preparation. We are prepared…not in the sense that we’ve gathered and organized our stuff and are ready to face whatever, although it can mean that. “We are prepared” also means that we understand that God has already prepared us…equipped us…physically, spiritually, with our gifts and talents and skills, and our associations with others…and we take whatever we have…and whatever we are…and listen for the Lord’s instructions…and follow them. And He will preserve us…yes, PROSPER us…for as long as He needs us to accomplish the work we were sent to do in the first place. Today’s world doesn’t need self-reliance…which actually encourages gadget-reliance. No…today’s world needs God-reliance. The question really ought to be: Am I prepared to rely on God when everything I have is taken away and everything’s gone awry?
In Psalms 118:8-9, it says,
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
That…is my faith.