I live in the Portland Oregon area, which means 90% of the time, the weather is just fine. Maybe slightly damper or overcast than many would like, but mostly we’re a temperate and comfortable place to live.
Until this winter.
We’re not equipped for this sort of thing. And I don’t mean we don’t like this sort of weather, but instead our community is fully unprepared to handle this sort of event. There is no salt in store to salt the road. There are no plows (well, there are very limited numbers of plows) to plow the highways. And our metro area has more than a thousand feet elevation change with thousands of hills and bridges. Snow is not our thing. And it has fallen with too much consistency (then turned to impassable ice) this winter. Like I haven’t worked a full week in the office since Christmas consistency.
All this snow (which has finally melted off) makes today’s reading, the parable of Joseph and the Famine (Genesis 41) so relevant right now. The Pharaoh, with Joseph’s help, heeded God’s the warning of famine. The people of Egypt stored away essentials during the good years, the years of plenty and feast – and when the hard times came, they were prepared. Now I’m not saying you should become a crazy prep-er, stocking up for the end times or a nuclear holocaust, but here’s a parable of my own.
When snowed in for the forth (or fifth? I’ve lost count!) time this winter, our home lost power – which means we also lost our cable, water, and heat. I may have also, for a teeny tiny moment, lost my shi*t, and laid in bed refusing to get up and put my big girl (snow) pants on, praying that God send power and a civilized life back to my home. While pray is never uncalled for, this one maybe wasn’t as necessary as my early morning panic/don’t-want-to-deal had me believing.
You see, my earthly father is an Emergency Manager – his work is to get communities and organizations ready for major disasters, so we spend a lot of time talking about canned food and bottled water and women having sneakers in their cars. And we have diligently heeded both his advice, and the lessons of Joseph’s parable. Over time, we’ve built ourselves a little safety net. We have bottled water to drink, and buckets to flush the toilet. We have wood for the fire place, and candles to light the way (and matches to set fire to all of these things). We have extra batteries for our phones and books to read (no batteries required, and better than the movie!). We have cans of soup, and tuna fish, and pasta in our pantry. I never went out and built us a full blown the-end-is-near survival kit, and we certainly don’t have those weird freeze-dried-two-years-worth-of-food-you’d-rather-die-than-eat-takes-up-the-whole-garage situations. Joseph put away 20% of the harvest, which may be a little excessive (unless you’re going to be the soup dealer in your neighborhood), but when we have a little extra money in the grocery budget, I buy a little extra for my pantry, and when crackers or soup is on sale I buy two. Just like we auto deduct cash into our savings with every paycheck – so that one day, if there isn’t a paycheck, there’s still money. Because we know, that sometimes famine comes. We know that cars break down, and jobs are lost, and it snows way too much and you can’t make it to the grocery store. Because famine isn’t a biblical concern, it’s an earthly one – and God doesn’t want us to stand cold and hungry this winter, when he has given us so much with summer harvests.
So your weekend homework from this no-longer snowed in student teacher: take this is a warning of famine and check your emergency stores. Look at what you need to stock up on, and what you’ve already stashed away – and be prepared to do more than pray.
PS – If you need a place to start, our state Emergency Services Department (hi Dad!) has a great calendar http://www.ocem.org/pdf_resources/01-Prepare_Calendar.pdf