The Downside of Winning

What would I have done if Carol the l and I had won the mega-millions $1.3 billion lottery? I’m sure millions of people daydreamed about that. I mean, just think about it. With $1.3 (and some change) billion you could pay off the orthodontist and still have…what..$1.25 billion left? Heck, you could pay the cost of braces for the children of some small country!

I know, I know…if you decided to take the money in one lump payment, after taxes, the bundle would drop to about 738 million or so. You’d still be able to take a vacation to a location other than the Koa Campground, maybe get new tires for the Civic, and stop having to buy your deodorant at Dollar General.

You may think I’m looney, if you haven’t already, but I wouldn’t want to win such a lottery. Since I didn’t buy a ticket there was no “chance” of that happening anyway. Carol and I talked about this yesterday. We kept coming up with the downside ripple effects of winning it. Oh, it would be nice (but unnecessary) to pay off the mortgages for our children and do other nice things for people and worthwhile ministries. Our good fortune would result in the gain for Judson University (especially their RISE program with intellectual disabilities), Northern Seminary, the SOAR Ministry that our friends Wendell and Heather Garrison spearhead, Young Life, The Navigators, Care and Share Food Bank, First Baptist Church of Simla, Colorado, and American Baptist International Missions.

But money also does things that are unforeseen and destructive. Regardless of how Reverend Ike used to paraphrase the verse by replacing the word “love” with “lack”, the wise words in the New Testament letter to Timothy from the Apostle Paul should warn us:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

Jesus seemed to have empathy for the poor, and was wary of the well-to-do. He noticed the widow who put two coins in the temple offering, talked about how she gave out of her lack instead of the rich who gave out of their plenty and sought to be noticed.

Money has a way of making us think we’re more than we are and heading us toward unreasonable decisions. It’s a false measure of our importance. Carol and I talked about the imbalance that $738 million would bring to our life. The numerous adjustments that would have to be made. It’s not like we’re unsatisfied with our lives. We just celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary this past week. We’ve been blessed with three kids and five grands. Our dissatisfaction with life revolves around mundane items like weeds in the flower beds, bread that has gone stale too quickly, and my snoring.

Our simple satisfaction include things like listening to the Cubs’ games on satellite radio (Carol), teaching and coaching middle school students (me), my stool at Starbucks for writing, the grandkids, and long walks while listening to The Bible Project podcasts.

We’re simple folk who would feel out-of-place knowing that people would be seeing us as the mega-rich. I mean, our extravagant purchases each day include my cup of Pike Place coffee at Starbucks and Carol’s Diet Coke from the local convenience store fountain. We’d probably have to start having Uber deliver our simplicity to us.

If someone asked me if I was even tempted to buy a lottery ticket, I’d tell him, “No.” I’m a happy camper. My number one need is to follow Jesus, followed closely by being a responsible father and grandfather to my family. Those two tasks take enough time as it is. $738 million would simply be a distraction.

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