A Matter of Will, or a Matter of Inventory?, by George L.

I really enjoy sitting down and watching movies. What the radio once was to us as Americans, I believe the DVD player has become to us now. On any night of the week, people are gathered together watching movies together.
That being said, The Usual Suspects is one of the most interesting movies around. I should warn you before I go further that it is not for the squeamish, or the easily offended. The subject matter is coarse, and the movie is unapologetically rough. However, there is one particular exchange that sticks with me to this day, and it’s been a while since I sat down with a bowl of popcorn and watched the movie. I’ll elaborate here without divulging any plot entanglements or vital parts of the movie, so if you want to see the movie, I’m not spoiling it for you. (That ticks me off when people do it to me, so I’ll lead by example and keep the suspense for you!)
Kevin Spacey is one of the characters, and he is telling a story about an extremely tough villain. The villain is somewhat of a mythical figure, and Spacey is telling of the man’s beginnings. In telling the story, some men have perpetrated a horrendous evil upon this villain, but the villain (I don’t even want to give up the name) has a chance to respond. Spacey looks at the person with whom he is speaking, and with a steely gaze, says, “These men realized that you didn’t need guns, or money, or more men. You only needed the will to do what the other guy wouldn’t do. That’s what they thought they were doing. But then XXXX showed those men of will what will really was.”
This story loses something in the retelling, so I would encourage you to rent the movie just for that story alone. The story itself gets me thinking about my life, and my preparations. Do I really have the will to follow through? To back up the words, the plans, the stacks and piles of stuff I have amassed?
It’s easy to be an armchair commando when times are prosperous. We can easily back up our plans with bravado. “Of course we’ll get through. Look at the plans I have made.” Or, “Don’t worry, I’ve got it all covered.”
We as fallen humans, regardless of our current state of justification (whether we know Jesus or not), or sanctification (how we are being made more like Jesus), all too often rely on the “stuff” of life as our assurance of survival. Jesus addressed this in the Sermon on the Mount, specifically Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (English Standard Version)
Jesus’ words remind us that we struggle with priorities. His admonition is not one of relying on things or will in a survival situation, but his warning is relevant. We do try to serve two masters and rely on earthly things to save us. The big question from Jesus’ teaching as it applies to this particular context is this: When it comes to our long-term viability and stability, in what do we place our faith? Are we preoccupied with our inventory lists, or are we mindful of our inventory and making the effort to insure that we can walk the walk that we’ve talked for so long?
I have posed this question to myself for far longer than I’ve been acquiring things. I’ve done this because I have not had the resources to equip properly. I take this to be a blessing, because God has provided for me the ability to live on little. Of course it is not the ideal scenario, and I’ve been equipping as I have been blessed with resources. But what I want to encourage in others is an ability to ask this hard question, because if the balloon goes up and you have high-tech equipment, a great piece of land, a never-ending water supply, but you are scared to go outside to work your land, what do you really have? I’ll tell you: You have a really well stocked retreat for the first band of ne’er do wells that comes down the pike.
In the course of my equipping process, I came across this maxim: In a crisis you will not rise to your expectations, you will fall to your level of training. It is one of the cold, hard realities of life. If you have cool toys, but no experience with them, are you realistically going to have the will to get involved in a protracted exchange of gunfire with a band of hooligans? I would put my money on the answer being, “No,” as you will not have the mental tools to overcome the natural adrenaline dump of a stressful combat scenario.
Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not telling you to go our and scrap your FN-FAL and use an atlatl. Technology is a good thing, and we should avail ourselves of it whenever it is possible. What I am saying is do not neglect an area of your training that is far more important than the size of the dog in the fight, namely the size of the fight in the dog. You must have the will to do that which your opponent will not. That opponent could be a roving band of prisoners, or the collected fury of a neighborhood mob just looking for their next meal. The real point is that we as survival minded people must be aware of the struggle we face over our priorities, just as Jesus said.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24a)
Please, in your preparations, consider what you are doing. When you make that firearm purchase, know the things for which you are purchasing it. Take courses taught by experienced people. They will know how to properly equip you with the mental skills, the will to properly use your weapons. Similarly, when we find that sweet deal on an old wood stove, we must practice with using it, so it doesn’t collect dust until an emergency. We cannot be armchair commandos. We must cultivate the will to survive, to acquire knowledge and skills as well as neat toys.
We are buying tools, and we must have the mental ability to use those tools to the best of our abilities, both to bring glory to God (see the Westminster Confession of Faith, Question 1) as well as to properly provide for our families and those who have looked to us for assistance or leadership.
Ultimately, it is God’s will that will prevail over all of our plans, whether they are adequate, amazing, or sub-par. That is important to realize, because it puts our own preparations in their proper perspective, and will cause us to acquiesce to His plans. This is what true survival preparedness should look like. Trust in God, and keep your powder dry.