340 Million Dollars And One Life Lesson

It was October 16th, 2005.  A Sunday like most with one exception. For the last couple weeks my fellow employees had been excruciatingly bothersome with their jabber about the Powerball Lottery.  Like so many others in this country, I had contemplated my dreams of 340 million dollars.  Up until this Sunday I hadn’t bought a ticket.  As I pushed open the gas station doors and walked inside a voice reminded me about the lottery.  It was unusual for me to be interrupted in my normal thoughts with an outside influence.  I thought maybe this was God, telling me to buy a ticket.  Not wanting to miss my chances on the free riches to be given away in just three short days, I bought a dozen eggs, a gallon of milk, and one quick-pick Powerball Lottery ticket.

Soon after that the fever set in.  Oh the wonders one could do with that much money.  Even after the federal and state governments got their share a winner would be allowed to take home a lump sum of 112 million dollars.  That much money in a savings account at .04% interest compounded monthly is roughly $500,000 a year.  Way more than my current salary.  I would finally be debt free!  My  parents, family, friends and their parents wouldn’t have to worry about money anymore.  It would solve my problems and the problems of people close to me.  With the money I would have left over I could live a rich life.  I would not be a slave to my job and my bills.  It was almost drug-like to think about.

The next morning I was in my usual routine.  My 40-minute drive to work & lousy radio in my car always allows me to spend some time thinking about life.  On my way out the door I had noticed the lottery ticket on the table and it was now all that filled my head.  It was then that I started to wonder about the complications of that vast amount of paper in the bank.  I would need a lawyer, maybe two, a financial manager and possibly some security.  Would I be putting my family at risk with that much money?  Wisconsin isn’t known for kidnappings but stranger things have happened.  It appeared that the money might be more taxing than joyful.  I started to wonder about what Jesus would do if he won the lottery.  I’m definitely not any sort of scholar when it comes to this man’s life, but I knew a few things about him.  I knew that he valued charity, forgiveness and the act of being humble.  My mind was made up.  If I won I would stay humble.  I would only spend the money to make others happy.  Any money I spent on myself would be to only repair or replace what I already owned.  Charities would receive the majority of the winnings with the rest going towards others close to me.  I felt relieved.  I made a promise to God.

“Let me win this money and I will do your will with it.  I will follow in your son’s footsteps and help feed the hungry, clothe the poor and bring happiness to the unhappy.”

In my mind I was serious.  I now felt as if winning was almost inevitable.  I ignored my previous thoughts of new vehicles and big houses.  I started to plan in my mind where and to whom the money would be sent.  I kept this train of thought up until Wednesday afternoon, the day of the lottery.  I felt at peace with this money and I was sure that God would entrust me these winnings.  It was
almost a guarantee.

That afternoon, as I turned out more ads for my company, I listened to public radio.  The host for one hour decided to take phone calls from listeners with the topic of “If you won the lottery, what would you do with it?”  I expected to hear many people call in with ideas of the rich & famous.  Cars, houses, boats and other possessions not necessary for a happy life.  I scoffed at the thought of such  shallow wants.  I knew that if I would be so blessed with the jackpot that I would do the most good with it.

Then I started to listen to my fellow humans beings.  A woman called in and stated her intentions to start a land protection charity in her late husbands name.  A man called in with a list of charities that would receive almost all of his winnings.  As the hour went by, there wasn’t a caller without good intentions.  I finally realised why that voice at the gas station had told me to buy a ticket.  It wasn’t so I could win this money and use it for the God’s work.  It was so God could teach me how to use what he’s already blessed me with.  It became clear that whoever won the lottery that they would use it for good in some way or form.  It became clear to me that I could use what I already have to give to charities.  It became clear to me that following the footsteps of Jesus and being humble, forgiving and
charitable was things that even a poor man could do.  In fact, a poor man named Jesus had already done them.

So it seems that we tend to forget what we already have.  We tell God and ourselves that with only a few more dollars we could really get into doing God’s work.  Though in our own lives we’ve already won the lottery, and it’s up to us to cash in the ticket.

That night I checked the lottery numbers on the Internet.  I did win some money!  One number plus the Powerball is four dollars.  I was three dollars ahead.  It wasn’t enough to pay off my parent’s house or any of the other grand schemes I had promised to God about.  But one dollar was a smashing deal when it came to the lesson I learned.  I also won enough to buy some more eggs and milk.

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