- March 2014
- December 2013
- June 2013
- March 2013
- September 2013
- From the Editor’s Desk
- Bloom Where You Are Planted and Where You Are Transplanted
- The Change Game
- Ten Tender Weeks: The Countdown
- The Chap Who Lives in a Flat
- Conspiracy Theory
- The Closers
- He Knows
- Surprising Steps with a Friendly Wind
- If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!
- Walking the Talk
- Message in a Bottle
- January 2013
Rashness to Riches and Back Again
Rashness to Riches and Back Again
By Cheryl von Drehle
I stare in rising disbelief as the six digits flash across the bottom of the screen. One by one they match the numbers on the flimsy cardboard ticket quivering in my fingers. I have won the mega millions jackpot!
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 ten percent and give ninety percent 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 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.” (Proverbs 30:8-9 NIV)
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…
* * *
CHERYL VON DREHLE is a Californian turned Midwesterner who has always found opportunities to engage in her passion for the written word in multiple careers, including manager, paralegal and counselor. She has most recently been blessed to be able to “retire” early in order to focus more intensely on writing and ministry. You can read more by Cheryl at FaithWriters