Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)
TITLE: The Plan
By Michael Throne
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I have these visions, this sense of doom that I just can’t seem to shake.
“It’s going to be all right,” my wife, Janice, assures me, repeatedly. “God has a plan.”
Yes, he does. No doubt.
All in all, I’m actually quite well adjusted, if you ask anyone who knows me. Three young children, a nice house, a dog. We live in northern Virginia, outside DC, where I work. Honestly, I’m quite happy.
And God does indeed have a plan.
Goosebumps run down my arm at the thought.
He has a plan.
Janice walks up excitedly. “I’ve signed us up for a forum!”
“What sort of…forum?” I can be a little negative, sometimes.
“I know how worried you’ve been about the future, so when I came across this presentation, ‘How to Weather the Storm,’ I just knew it was God leading me there. And you know what? Stephanie Fisher, the financial advisor who’s speaking? She’s a Christian!”
“Really? Great!” I make every effort to stay positive.
“It’s going to be fine.”
I glance at her.
“Honest, it is.”
I’m just not sure.
The earthquake off the coast of Maryland stuns almost everyone. The damage wasn’t extensive, but after what happened in Haiti, Japan, and then Brazil and Mexico City, this last one hit just a little too close to home.
On the morning of the presentation, I feel the tremor of an aftershock as I dress.
“Should we really be leaving the kids with a sitter?” I ask.
Janice laughs. “They’ll be fine.”
We’re a group of maybe thirty people, mostly couples, listening to Stephanie’s bright, cheerful explanation about how we’ve had many of the same problems in the past, and we’ve come through each and every time.
“And what about World War Two?” she says. “Yes, we ended up with massive debt, even worse than we have today, but we paid it down and came out the stronger for it!”
Heads nod across the room.
“And the Great Depression? Sure, it was tough! But we came through. We always come through! We’re a great, resilient nation; we’ll make it through these times as well.”
One man appears uncertain. Our eyes meet momentarily.
“Earthquakes, hyper-inflation, wars?” Stephanie continues, “Everything happening now has happened before! And yet, we managed to endure.”
I start shaking. I cross my arms in an effort to stop.
“And do you know who survives?” she asks. “The winners are the ones who have a solid financial plan and stick with it.”
“But what about another big ‘black swan’ event…?” It was the uncertain-looking man.
“Whatever it is, we’ll get through it.” Her voice is calm, reassuring. “We always do.”
He shakes his head. “But what if we don’t?”
“Sir, what, exactly, are you worried about?”
“I don’t know. Maybe another terrorist attack. A nuclear disaster. Another earthquake. I have no idea, but lately, black swans are happening so often, they’re almost expected.”
“Precisely. They’re almost expected. We are exceptionally resilient. We can and will deal with anything. Everything is going to be fine.”
“What about Armageddon?” It was me, my voice. It just came out.
Stephanie appears stunned. My wife takes my hand.
“I don’t know. Maybe buy a cabin in Montana?” she offers. “I don’t think anyone can prepare for Armageddon.”
Everyone smiles, and even I feel a sense of relief.
“Now our firm does offer some very good mutual funds from Oppenheimer…,” she says, “for those of us who still plan on being here in fifteen or twenty years,” she adds with a grin.
On the way out, Janice picks up some literature and we both thank Stephanie for her presentation.
“I like the Growth Fund from Lincoln,” Janice says, stepping through the door. “Or maybe the Long Term Bond Fund. We have quite a few years before we retire, but it’s never too early to start planning.”
“Yes, you’re right,” I say, trying to stay positive.
As we walk outside, the ground shudders violently and I see huge mushroom clouds forming over the city. A sense of dread overwhelms me. Eventually, the vision fades, but I remain standing.
How does one prepare for Armageddon?
Janice tugs at my arm. “Just have faith,” she insists. “God has a plan.”
He does. Indeed, he does.
I let her pull me toward the car, but I know I’ll have to stop her sometime.
Our move to Montana is going to be quite stressful, I’m certain.
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