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!