A Story: Surviving On Your Own


One day a great storm devastated an isolated village. Only one man and his small family survived. They decided to look for food and water in a nearby forest that, strangely, seemed untouched by the storm.

After days of hunting and gathering, they came upon a quaint, tidy cabin made of logs.

“What a wonder,” the man’s wife said. “A place where we can live away from the wild animals and the night frost.”

“It’s a little far from water, though,” the man said. “We’ll stay here for a few days while I scout out a better location where we can build our own house.”

A few days passed as the little family busied themselves with the necessities of survival. Early the first of the week, the man set out to scout for a place near a stream or river. Surprisingly, he returned in a matter of moments.

“Why did you come back so soon? Did you forget something?” his wife asked. “Are you hurt? Are we in danger?”

“Not at all,” the man replied. “I found a source of water, so there’s no need to look for a better place.”

“A stream we overlooked?”

“No. A well. It’s fairly new, as if someone dug it recently.”

“What good fortune! Unless they are planning to come back. Do you think someone owns this land? Maybe we should try to find out who built the cabin and dug the well. We could offer to rent from him. Maybe someday buy.”

“That would be a good plan,” her husband answered. “But I don’t think anyone actually does own the land, the cabin, or the well. We should just enjoy what nature has provided.”

When winter came, the man could no longer hunt as he had before, and his wife and children had no berries or nuts or roots to gather. The food that they had dried for the cold months became scarce.

After a particularly fierce storm, the man made his way to the well. There, off to one side, dug into the side of a small knoll, he discovered a cave. Carefully he peered inside. Hanging from meat hooks just inside the entrance were several boar carcasses. The cave was apparently a smoke house that they simply had overlooked.

Gratefully he took down the nearest slab of meat and returned to the cabin.

A day or two later he found a barn with a milk cow inside. Still another day he came upon a small silo filled with grain.

All winter his small family lived on the meat, milk, and grain from these outbuildings. Surprisingly, when they were low on meat, another wild boar appeared in the smoke house, along with a bin of roots and another of spices. They had all they wanted to live by.

One day as spring approached, the man’s oldest asked, “Daddy, where does the food come from?”

The man puffed out his chest and smiled. “I find it for you, my son.”

“But when we first came to the cabin, I didn’t see a smoke house or a barn or a well. No silo either.”

“I guess we didn’t look closely,” his mother said.

“Or perhaps we didn’t know the area well enough to know where to look or what to look for,” the man added. “Or maybe the things just happened. The storm might have caused them to form.”

“And the animals?” the boy asked.

“They may have wandered in to get out of the cold,” his mother said.

“I’m glad the cow wandered into the barn and not the smoke house,” the boy said. “I like her milk.”

Up on a hill overlooking his forest strode the king of the land with several of his attendants.

“How long do you want us to provide meat for the little family, Sire,” one of the servants asked.

“As long as they need it,” his royal majesty said. “They’re bound to realize soon that they have sheltered on my land, that I’ve supplied them with what they need. If not, I’ll send one of you to tell them.”

“I’ll go,” the prince said. “Surely they’ll recognize the royal robe and the crown. I’ll tell then you’ve been watching over them since they entered the forest, and that they can stay as long as they would like. I’m sure they’ll be happy to learn they are not alone, that you are generous and kind and that they have nothing to worry about.”

But the little family wasn’t glad. They didn’t know this king, they said, and they weren’t about to take the word of a so-called prince, that somebody else owned this land. Hadn’t they lived there now for six months? By right the place was theirs. They weren’t going to pay tribute or follow some imaginary king’s rules. Why, he’d probably say the man could only hunt certain animals and had to give away a portion of the milk.

When the prince turned his back, the man picked up the nearby pitchfork, and made his plan.

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Published in: on September 23, 2019 at 5:02 pm  Comments (14)  
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The Haves And The Have-Nots


More times than I can count, various things I read in Scripture or hear from some other source, mesh. That’s the case this week. I recently talked about Elijah with a friend, then this morning the very story we were discussing was in my reading.

I’m referring to Elijah’s jumping off spot in his ministry. He prayed that it would not rain, and it didn’t for three years. Drought in those days meant famine, yet God took care of Elijah. First He led him to the brook Cherith where he not only had water but food that ravens brought him. Until the brook dried up.

I couldn’t help but wonder what Elijah thought as he saw the flow of water lessen day by day. Did he start cutting back on his water intake? Did he try to create a dam or dig around the edges to make a well? Did he doubt God’s plan and start checking the sky for rain clouds? Scripture doesn’t say. But we do know God led him from the dry brook to the town of Zerephath.

He went from the dry brook to the last of a widow’s food supply. When he came upon this woman, he asked for a drink of water and a bite to eat. She said she was in the process of making a last bread cake for herself and her son. Elijah said, Fine, but make me one first and don’t be afraid because your oil and your flour won’t run out.

I wonder what she thought. All she had to go on was this man’s word. God’s word actually. But she trusted completely and made him that bread cake.

In one sense she didn’t have, and Elijah didn’t have, but in another, they both were rich because they trusted God for His provision.

Couple that with the passage in Philippians I’ve been concentrating on this week. Paul tells the church in Philippi that he’s learned to be content in whatever circumstances he finds himself:

I know how to get along with humble means and how to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled or going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
– Phil 4:12-13

It dawned on me that it’s possible for a person to have an abundance and simultaneously suffer need. For example, a few weeks ago a couple at church, Doug and Cindy Pickersgill, shared their testimony via video. He has ALS, and as you can imagine, they are suffering need as the disease destroys his body. But at the same time, he has an abundance of faith—an overflow, really—and the deep love of his wife and family. Simultaneously, he has abundance and suffers need.

But above all, it struck me that God is the one who enables a person to go through the suffering and to handle the abundance.

Not everyone does handle these two, but I don’t doubt God’s enabling power. He’s left us with examples in Scripture. I think, for example of Daniel’s three friends, condemned to die for not worshiping an idol. Their response was, God can save us, but even if He doesn’t, we’re not bowing before any other God.

They understood that in abundance (deliverance from death) or suffering (incineration in the furnace) God remains sovereign and faithful.

Published in: on December 2, 2010 at 6:52 pm  Comments Off on The Haves And The Have-Nots  
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