Supply Chain and the Kingdom of Heaven

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Most people’s expressions glaze over when I start talking about my work and so I don’t bother to talk about it very much. I tell them, “I work with computers and data.” or  “I load lots of data into an enormous financial system for a very large manufacturing company.” My listeners raise their eyebrows but rarely utter another word of interest about my job. I thought I might weave together a few interesting facts about what I do, that won’t put you to sleep, and yet still give a better description.

Think of the last time you sat in traffic waiting for a train. Did you open the windows to listen to the clackety-clack, or picture yourself walking on top of the rail cars as if you had nothing better to do? The company where I work is in the supply chain industry. So … think about seeds becoming plants; plants producing food; food harvested and transported by truck or rail to manufacturing plants; manufacturing plants making products; products being shipped to distribution centers; distribution centers delivering to stores; stores putting products on shelves; and you purchasing products for your family. That’s supply chain in a really simple description.

Now picture a bottle of vegetable oil in your kitchen … and then standing next to a rail car of vegetable oil. Your bottle of vegetable oil is still in your hand, and you are dwarfed by the magnitude of the rail car, let alone the amount of oil in the rail car itself. The comparison nearly blows your circuits doesn’t it? It fascinates me. Now compare your bottle of oil to a full train length of rail cars of vegetable oil. Or even many train lengths of rail cars. Thousands of rail cars.

Our comparison of one person’s demand for a product compared to the supply can go in many directions but I want to think about the principles of supply and demand in the Kingdom of God. Our economy is expressed in terms of monetary exchange, and we assign a value to a bottle of oil or a pair of jeans. We exchange or purchase the jeans based on the value determined by the company. If they are Lee jeans then they are one price and if they are 7 For All Mankind brand then a different price. But that economy is man-made, of course, and God is in no way bound to our way of doing things. He’s on His own schedule. He owns everything and so He’s free to ‘exchange’ on whatever parameters He likes. He happens to like ‘free’ a lot and that’s really good, I think.

But what if He put you in charge of a supply chain? What if He said that you should watch over, manage, tend the supply chain for a product line, or even an industry? Certainly Steve Jobs and Bill Gates would understand this principle. What if God so gifted you to lead the design for Apple products: Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods. Or beginning with a small operating system like the Disk Operating System shape the way the world processes information?

Before you think to yourself, “Meh! She’s being ridiculous!” Realize that God uses ordinary people to impact and influence the whole world. We often think in terms of supply, meaning, I need the $100 to cover this bill. We do not often think in terms of the supply chain … all of the enormity of God’s abilities and the storehouses of God’s supply. He operates on a much larger scale … and yet an infinitely smaller scale at the same time.

God wants you to engage with Him and connect with Him so that He can do enormous things through your life. And yet He’s crazy with compassion toward you when you discover that first wrinkle or when your dreams seem dim and unreal to you.

In the same moment I like to ponder the enormous train car full of vegetable oil and the sparrow. There’s the old hymn, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”


One thought on “Supply Chain and the Kingdom of Heaven

    Erin Hankins said:
    May 13, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Thank-you. Your words bring life. They just do. 🙂

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