Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Rich (04/26/12)
TITLE: Rashness to Riches and Back Again
By Cheryl von Drehle
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How could this happen? Being struck by lightning, dying in an airplane crash, traveling to the moon … I think of all the scenarios “they say” are more likely to happen than winning the big one. And then I remember my promises.
What had I told God when I was standing in line with dollar bill in hand, waiting my turn and dreaming big? I told him I would inverse tithe – keep 10% and give 90% to His works. I would start a charitable foundation. I would pay off my church’s mortgage. I would feed Africa. What a foolish dreamer.
I think of my family, my friends, my acquaintances, and all the strangers that will see my big win announced in the media. I think of all the deadbeat, and dead, lottery winners of the past. I had vowed that I would be different, but am I, really?
And then I panic. I do not want to be rich. Millions of dollars at my command are too much responsibility. I like my life, staying under the radar, not making hard choices or dealing with suddenly unfamiliar and heretofore only imagined temptations.
I know what I have to do. And I have to do it quickly before temptation creates doubt about such swift and decisive action. I move trancelike to the kitchen. Pulling open the junk drawer I quickly find a dusty unused matchbox. With no thought but impending freedom I strike a match and put flame to ticket.
The acrid smell and sudden flash startle me out of my stupor and I drop the ash into the sink. I gape at the conundrum of co-mingled horror and ecstasy that is slowly dissolving into a grey puddle. What have I done? Was this an act of cowardice or courage? Have I rejected ill gotten gain in a flash of heroism, or thrown away the most marvelous opportunity ever presented to me?
I lean over the mess in the kitchen sink and vomit. If I die right now I will be happy. Otherwise I will live tormented by “what ifs.” No, I am being overly dramatic. Context, perspective, rationality … that is what I need to embrace. I recite the proverbial prayer to myself: “Lord, give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” * I feel better.
I wipe my face with a washcloth and my pulse slows. It occurs to me that both buying and burning the lottery ticket will in the end teach me more life lessons than the actual money. Or, then, again, maybe not…
*Proverbs 30:8-9, NIV
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