Yesterday the Mega Millions Jackpot was at a record high- somewhere in the neighborhood of $650,000,000. Lines to buy lottery tickets stretched out the doors of the local Shop Rite and around the building! The scene was similar all around the country. It was a frenzy! There was no escaping the hot topic of conversation; everyone was talking about it from newscasters to my walking partners: "What would you do with 600 MILLION DOLLARS?"
Translation: What would you do if you could do whatever you wanted?
This is a big question! After we go through the list of 'things we would do:" Pay off debt, buy a bigger house(s), or a car(s) or a corporation, or an island... (come on, you've thought of escaping to your own private island!) And after we go through the list of who we would chose to help (or not) and charities we would choose to fund (or not)... maybe feed some starving kids, or do something to help the homeless, or dig a bunch of wells for people in Africa... pick your possibilities...
What would you do if you could do anything you wanted?
I suspect that for most folks, there are very few negative things on those lists of "things." I can't envision many of us deciding to buy weapons of mass destruction or 20 boxes of machine guns with our mega millions. And while most of us do long for 'world peace' at some level, we are more concerned with individual freedom. We want to have the means to be able to live out our dreams. We want to be the people we hoped we would grow up to be when we were young and perceived the world as an open door; people who could change the world! And although we may no longer want to become astronauts, or rock stars, or ballerinas, we do yearn for the feeling of "you can do anything" that those dreams brought with them.
So maybe a better translation of "what would you do with $600,000,000" is: "What would you do with complete freedom to be everything you could be?"
Becoming the people we hoped we would be, or better, who God has designed us to be, when it comes down to it, has very little to do with money, houses, private islands or being a ballerina. It has more to do with how we see ourselves. And if we are honest, most of the things on our 'to do' list (barring the purchases) are within our reach. We may not be able to fund the digging of a well in Africa, but we can donate old coats to clothe the homeless. We may not be able to obliterate hunger, but we can buy a box of pasta for the local food pantry. And while we may not be able to bring about world peace, we can certainly treat our neighbors a little better... maybe do a better job at caring for each other... maybe look less at what is not in our own hands, and instead notice the hands reaching toward us with needs greater than we can imagine. (Sadly, we don't have to look very far to find someone who needs help)
Actually, if everyone who bought a mega millions ticket yesterday helped one person for each ticket they bought- or spent the amount of time that they stood in line, instead helping their neighbor, we would be on our way to bringing about the kind of changing the world effect we dream about... we already have the freedom to become who we were meant to be, and we don't even have to buy a ticket to win.
Just food for thought...