by David Sisler
Read any good T-shirts lately? One recently caught my attention with its interesting message. "God, please let me prove to you that I can be trusted with winning the lottery!"
I remember telling my brother, Kyle, my plans to buy a lottery ticket--back when the Georgia lottery climbed over $20 million for the first time. I said that I had discussed it with God, and promised Him that if my six numbers came up, I would split it with Him, 50-50. I would keep half for myself and put the other half into building a Bible school in Samara, Russia, the city where I have ministered for the past two years.
Kyle laughed and said, "How many people do you think have already made the same deal with God? What makes you think He's going to believe you any more than He believes the rest of those liars?"
I had no answer. I did not buy the ticket.
But there is an undeniable lure of the windfall. It is the stuff of dreams. You are following an armored car and a bag of money falls out. You turn it in (of course, you turn it in--keeping it is stealing) and they give you a percentage of the loot as a reward. Or an unexpected legal settlement lands you on easy street. Or your filthy rich Great Aunt Mabel passes on and leaves everything to you. It's unexpected, unearned, but not undeserved. Or so we think.
Many people ask: "Why not me? Why can't I get a piece of the action? When is the wind going to blow my way?"
C. Jack Dowden got his. In 1991 he blew the whistle on his company--they were scamming Medicare and Medicaid for millions with unneeded blood tests. The company settled with the federal government for $140 million and Dowden got 15 percent--$21 million. He is frequently contacted by stock brokers with the latest hot tip. He asks them, "Give me one good reason why I should buy your stock. Like I need to make more money?"
In April 1993, Don Calhoun was picked from the crowd at a Chicago Bulls game to try one free-throw from 75 feet away. When the ball swished through the net, he won $1 million. He has since started "The Million Dollar Man Basketball Clinic" for underprivileged kids.
Would you turn down $950,000? Marvin and Mattie Aday would, if they had the chance. The Department of Energy decided to build a $8.3 billion superconducting supercollider on half of their 750-acre farm. Marvin and Mattie were forced to sell. The supercollider project was canceled last year.
"We didn't want the money," Marvin said. "We just wanted to keep our home. We was mad as H when it happened. I cussed and I prayed and I cussed some more. Now we got the money and we're still mad. And we still don't want the money. We just wanted to spend the rest of our lives on our farm."
Marvin and Mattie understood. Some people never do. They live in a continual state of poverty, perhaps with thousands, or even millions, of dollars in the bank. They are poor because they are never satisfied. The amount of money in your pocket, does not determine whether or not you are wealthy.
People who are never satisfied are the poorest people on earth. They will never understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote, "I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have. I know how to live when I am poor. And I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned to be happy when I have enough to eat and when I do not have enough to eat. I have learned to be happy when I have all that I need and when I do not have the things I need."
The secret of Paul's satisfaction? "I can do all things," Paul said, "through Christ because he gives me strength."
Is there any thing wrong with dreaming about a windfall? Not that I'm aware of. Unless your dream consumes your reality.
Would I turn down a legitimate million dollar windfall? If it put me in a situation of the kind the Aday's faced, yes. But otherwise, not on your life! And, Bro, half of it would immediately go into a non-profit corporation to build that Bible school. But until the check arrives, I'm keeping my day job. And I'm going to continue to trust God. Not the way the wind blows.
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 6/10/95
Copyright 1995 by David Sisler
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