The basic needs of survival. What is the bare minimum to survive relatively comfortably? You need some form of shelter – a place to be safe, or at least to be not completely exposed to all dangers. You want that place to be dry and warm – a place to rest.
You also need food and water, or the means to get it. There’s a lot of ways that could work – from a light, sweet, bready kind of food that you find on the ground every morning (see the book of Exodus), a vegetable garden, money and a place to buy food. One way or another you need food.
I have these basic survival needs met with lots of room to spare. My wife and I own a house with help from a mortgage from a bank and we have jobs that bring in enough money that we can pay the mortgage payments each week and have enough left over to pay for utilities and buy food and other essentials like clothes and other supplies. We also have enough to have a van and to pay for the insurance and gas to use that regularly.
It’s a nice life.
But on top of that there’s the question of what happens when we get old? There’s the question of what happens if we lose or jobs? What if the economy tanks and a depression that’s even worse than the one in the ’30’s happens? What is our plan to take care of ourselves in an emergency?
The general idea for old age in my part of the world is that you pay for it yourself by socking away and investing money in your younger years so that you can use that to provide for yourself when you are old. A person needs to save enough so that they are able to draw on that money for as long as they are likely to be alive. Included in this money is a government pension and some people earn a pension through their job.
As for us, our plan to sock this money away is not as defined as maybe it should be. Our plan is to figure this out in the near future. I know that we’re not alone. I have read on more than one occasion that people in Canada are not saving enough for retirement. It’s a concern for people as well as for the society at large – what happens if a whole bunch of people get old and they reach a point where they can’t take care of themselves? What if they aren’t able to retire and make room for the younger people who are looking for jobs?
Jesus said something about this in his Sermon on the Mount when he talked about not being anxious about what we eat and what we wear because our Father in heaven knows what we need and will provide it. He also said to seek the kingdom of God first.
As I was writing the above I had this strange sense of familiarity and so I did a quick search, and sure enough, I wrote about this very same thing and this very same passage about eight months ago.
It was encouraging to read it and also a reminder that some things don’t change. Maybe God is trying to tell me something. I certainly have a sense that striving for the kingdom, for me, has something to do with this blog and with my book. My wife and I also talk a lot about how we spend our money and how we can give more – how can we support people in this world who are helping out where the needs are the greatest.
So, does that mean we should just ignore what we’re supposed to do and not save for the future? Should we not be thinking about that $1M or so dollars we’re supposed to require in order to retire comfortably? Hard questions, and I don’t think that the answers are obvious – it may sound as if I’m implying that the answers to those questions is ‘Yes’, but I’m not sure about that.
What I am sure about, though, is that I need to be striving first for the kingdom of God, and I’m not sure right now if I am. For myself and my family, I just know that I’m not in that sweet spot of knowing, “This is where I’m supposed to be.” I’m pretty sure I’m not exactly where I’m supposed to be, at least not yet. I’m also not sure if I’ve done something wrong that has kept me from being there – maybe I’m not supposed to be there yet. Maybe this thinking and wondering and praying is all a part of the process I need to go through to get there. I don’t know.
I suspect these questions about money and saving for retirement will fall into place once I’ve answered that other question…first. Seek the kingdom…first. The rest comes after.