DIG DITCHES!

In the Bible, an incident is reported where three kings come together to battle a fourth one and get stranded in a desert without adequate water supply. An entreaty is made to the prophet who is unexpectedly found in their midst, to petition God to save them and plead for a solution from Him. The prophet heeds their cry, prays to God and returns the answer “Dig ditches all over this dry stream bed. Even though you will not see any rain or wind, this stream bed will be filled with water, and you, your livestock, and your pack animals will have plenty to drink.” You can read the full report in 2 Kings 3:16‭-‬17 (GNB).

In a recent insightful article on the World Economic Forum website, Bill Gates talks of the possibility of a COVID vaccine being ready in an 18-month period. However, for it to be effectively administered, he astutely points out that governments need to plan and set in place the machinery and structure needed to mass produce and administer thousands of doses at the same time. He says that the time to prepare appropriate protocols and be ready with necessary infrastructure to handle for the influx, both of the medicine and patient treatments is now. In short, begin to dig ditches now, not when the flow begins!

An important natural cycle in Egypt since ancient times is the flooding of the river Nile. As rainfall is almost non-existent in Egypt, the floods provide the only source of moisture to sustain crops. Every year, heavy summer rain in the Ethiopian highlands send a torrent of water that overflows the banks of the Nile. When the floods go down, they leave behind a thick rich mud (black silt) which is excellent soil to plant seeds in after it has been ploughed. Though clueless in the very distant past, Egypt today has set in measures to monitor and prepare for this cycle of overflow and receding of the waters. The country has harnessed and turned a natural ‘disaster’ into a potential wealth and renewable resource for itself. Egypt has learnt to dig ditches!

As we go through this period of quarantine, we can so easily be caught up with the past, of how good we had it. Or, be preoccupied with the present because of all the reports and statistics as the pandemic runs its course in the city, nation or the world. Its okay to look back with nostalgia and keep abreast of the current happenings so as to be sensitive and well-informed, but if we do not at least consider the future, we will be doubly lost.

If we do not look ahead, but just be obssessed with these, we will waste our time lamenting or we will just wait for the day of release out of social distancing to rush headlong into another type of disaster. If we do not use this time wisely and profitably to plan for literally a new world – what we should do, how we should do, when we should do, etc – we would be clueless and caught unawares when that time dawns. We need to look to the future and plan for a new way of life. It is the time right now to dig ditches!

The ditch you may need to dig could be a plan on how to ease into a normal day-to-day routine; it maybe to understand how to handle the economic fallout or downturn that is inevitable; it maybe to prepare for the extra load that will ensue in the workplace as companies rush to catch up on business; it maybe the need to revamp investment or insurance portfolios that will surely need a change or upgrade; it may be knowing how to help kids and senior citizens transition back to normal life; it may be just learning to understand how members of the family, especially spouses, will react to the change.

It is not just governments and those in authority who need to be aware of and take notice of the future. Each and everyone of us – individuals, couples, families, companies, corporate firms and churches need to sit down and draw up a game plan for the time to come. Now is the occasion and the opportunity to do it, rather than later. Such an attitude will also help to boost our morale and well-being since we are looking ahead, rather than behind or around.

Dig ditches to be ready and prepared to conserve what will come or lose the overflow that is sure to come and is just ahead!

*https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/united-states-coronavirus-bill-gates

*http://www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/egypt/nile.htm

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com and google images

MANAGING THE OVERFLOW

There was a season in our life when my husband and I faced an unusual issue of extra cash in hand every month. This was over and above our monthly expenditures and was not a normal occurrence in our life. Mostly, we would have just enough for our needs or even less than what was needed for our daily upkeep. We were faced with a serious dilemma: what to do with this excess? I was in a quandary since I was totally in charge of housekeeping and managing the family. My husband trusted me to take care of things at home fully, while he took care to earn and provide for us.

Lack was not new to me and I had become an expert in managing our family in times of need and want. Poverty was a familiar ground to me, prosperity was not! I was now in a new uncharted territory and needed guidance. As usual I turned to the Scriptures and found my answer there. What I found was THE PRINCIPLE OF JOSEPH!

In the Bible we see Joseph, a dreamer, becoming an interpreter of dreams to Pharoah, the sovereign of Eygpt. The Pharaoh has a dream of seven healthy cows being eaten up by seven lean cows and another dream of seven healthy ears of grain being swallowed up by seven weak ears of grain. With heavenly revelation and insight, Joseph diagnoses as the dreams together issuing a warning of things to come: there would seven years of extreme plenty followed by seven years of utter famine.
Joseph, not only interpreted the dream, but with the wisdom of God, born of training and experience, advised the King on the course of action to take in that season. His counsel, SAVE UP THE EXCESS DURING YEARS OF PLENTY TO TIDE OVER THE LACK IN THE YEARS OF NEED!

Thrilled with the simplicity of the answer to my question. I followed that principle and put aside the excess in a post office saving account. Just a few months later, a crisis situation rose in our family wherein we needed to have ready cash in our hand for expenses. What I had put aside helped us tide over in this very demanding time and gave us the freedom to handle it without the pressure of running around for resources!

Most often, when we are given a bonus, a raise or are fortunate to have surplus in our hands, we tend to spend it on what we have already desired to have. Surfing online shopping sites or window shopping or scanning magazines for deals has become a favorite pastime and entertainment for us. In doing so, we automatically build up a repertoire of wants and desires which we try to fulfil in the seasons we have excess or surplus. Nothing wrong in doing so when you have a planned budget to catch deals during, say a festival season; but doing it as an obsessive impulse is quite detrimental to our financial well being.
When I worked in a government office, I used to admire the thrift and saving acumen of a particular community/ people group in our nation. Any increase in salary or other benefits, they would immediately start an RD or participate in saving chit etc. They confined their needs and wants to a selected money slab and did not try to increase their lifestyle in any way, very content to be in that socioeconomic level. So when times of need came, they were well prepared in advance for that need. It was not that they did not live well, but it is that they have an inherent business and financial knowhow that is not known to many.

Even though I often faltered and did not follow the Joseph Principle, yet this lesson became a fundamental portion of my life and I have it taught it to others too. Life has come a full circle for me and now and I am again in a season of putting this into practice. Now I am equipped with wisdom to make the right decisions.

The way we handle what life throws at us is a true measure of our wisdom, maturity and understanding. We live in very fluid and unstable times and often our daily existence is standing on thin base of life, an ever-changing business environment and very uncertain financial condition. Gone are the days when a person could work at one job in one place in one organization for thrifty forty years before retiring with a sizable pension as well as savings such as PF, gratuity etc. In such perilous times, we cannot afford to build our lives, both family and individual on sinking sands of consumerism and materialism. We need to be careful managers, shrewd investors and wise planners.A note in passing: Joseph, after his wise counsel and exhibition of sharp business strategy, was appointed in charge of the very plan he mooted and became second only to Pharoah. In spite of being a foreigner and a slave in the land, Joseph was appointed administrator over the whole nation, having complete power and authority over everything. Nothing could be done without hai permission and he gained it all by the nobility of his mind. He became a wealthy man and led Eygpt to hold perfect sway even in the most dire times and made the country of his adoption to be head over all the nations around. How we handle what life throws at us is a true measure of our wisdom, maturity and understanding.
Let’s learn from ancient wisdom. Learn the art of managing a flood. Learn to handle the overflow. Live by the Principle of Joseph. Let your own wisdom pave your own path of success and honor!

*Photos courtesy unsplash.com