Thursday, November 29, 2012

You could be a winner!

Powerball Lottery
This morning two people woke up very rich. Very rich indeed. They'll share a $550,000,000 prize from the Powerball Lottery, the second-biggest win in USA lotto history.

Let the fighting begin.

Let the lawyers collect their briefs.

Let the estranged family and distant acquaintances gather to the fray.

"You're too cynical," says my dear reader. However, studies show that lottery winners seldom keep their earnings ... or their friends. They are worse off than before winning, not better. (Click here for a report.)

Some of us treat salvation like a winning lotto ticket. Bingo! We won! WE won! WE WON!!! We've gained eternal life. We expect that things will go well from here-on in. We will be happy. God's on our side so we'll be prosperous. Content. Congratulated by the masses. Beloved by our bosses at work. Like the prodigal son in Jesus' story, we throw party after party.

Except that trials come. Troubles swarm us just as they did before. We lose our jobs and friends wonder if we've gone nuts. We've splurged here and there on spiritual speculations and emotional highs, following our desires and instincts rather than God's plan for us. So we feel spiritually empty.

Instead of investing in our salvation and exploring the heights and depths of God's love, we've squandered the Pearl of Great Price as though it was ours to spend freely. We've ignored wise counsel and the disciplines of discipleship to run here and there as "King's Kids," spoiled brats who squawk at the slightest inconvenience or pain.

When we run out of good will, out of wisdom, and feel abandoned by the friends who first cheered us on in our spiritual quest, we tend blame God or accuse others of hypocrisy. We cast away our hope and walk away from the greatest treasure of all, the only valuable that endures -- a relationship with God and his Church.

In contrast to the prodigal son who wasted his treasure, how can we carefully nurture and care for the Gift of New Life entrusted to us?
  • Value the Giver. Acknowledge that this treasure, given to us in 'earthen vessels' (according to Paul) is a gift only God can bestow.
  • Value the Gift. Cherish salvation and life with God. Recognize its unique ability to bring peace on earth and goodwill among people on whom God's favor rests.
  • Invest the Gift. Read, pray, meditate, plan, and spend wisely. The way you handle the treasure God has give you determines not only your future but influences the decisions of those around you.
  • Be willing to give all you have to keep the Gift. Treasuring God's Gift may cost you all temporal things, even life itself. Relationships. Friendships. Family ties. Money. Time. Salvation and a relationship with God may cost you EVERYthing.
Paul said many run races, but one winner gets the prize at the finish line. Whatever the course God has marked out for you or me to run, let's make sure we don't stumble or throw away our confidence that this Gift - this mysterious life with God - is worth the training. Worth panting with exertion. Worth hardships. Worth staggering with fatigue and getting up time and time again to complete the course.

Then God will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You've won the right to be with me forever."

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