Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A thought about a jackpot winner and tornado survivors (John 5:19)

SCRIPTURE: John 5:19 (TM)
So Jesus explained himself at length. "I'm telling you this straight. The Son can't independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does.

A popular story recounts a meeting that may have taken place at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago in 1923. There is debate whether the meeting in fact occurred, but what is not in question is the actual rise and fall of the men featured in the story, who were nine of the richest men in the world at that time: (1) Charles Schwab, President of the world’s largest independent steel company; (2) Samuel Insull, President of the world’s largest utility company; (3) Howard Hopson, President of the largest gas firm; (4) Arthur Cutten, the greatest wheat speculator; (5) Richard Whitney, President of the New York Stock Exchange; (6) Albert Fall, member of the President’s Cabinet; (7) Leon Frazier, President of the Bank of International Settlements; (8) Jessie Livermore, the greatest speculator in the Stock Market; and (9) Ivar Kreuger, head of the company with the most widely distributed securities in the world. 

What happened to these powerful and rich men twenty-five years later? (1) Charles Schwab had died in bankruptcy, having lived on borrowed money for five years before his death. (2) Samuel Insull had died virtually penniless after spending some time as a fugitive from justice. (3) Howard Hopson became insane. (4) Arthur Cutten died overseas, broke. (5) Richard Whitney had spent time in a mental asylum. (6) Albert Fall was released from prison so he could die at home. (7) Leon Fraizer, (8) Jessie Livermore, and (9) Ivar Kreuger each died by suicide.

Measured by wealth and power these men achieved success, at least temporarily. But it did not surely guarantee them a truly successful life.

Convergence of two “major” events has taken place in the last couple of days. The nation’s largest lottery jackpot (590 Million) was won by a single ticket holder and devastating tornados ripped through the midsection of our country … lives, young lives, were lost.

Both caused the nation … and probably the world … to stop and take notice. Our hearts go out to those involved in both stories. On one hand we are thinking, “Wish it was me” and in the other situation we say, “Glad it wasn’t me.”

In both cases our prayers go out to those involved. On one hand we pray that the person or people who won the jackpot have the wisdom to handle their new fortune wisely and that they remember a charity or two or three along the way. In the other situation we pray for peace and comfort, especially for those who lost a child in the storm.

The jackpot winner is probably thinking that they really don’t need anyone any longer … they are independently wealthy (and they are), but are the really independent? As the storm victims are realizing – no one lives this life independent of others. Not even Jesus considered himself independent of the Father. That alone should cause us pause.

And so, how do we measure success? By wealth or by realizing that we really do need each other?

Create in us a clean heart, a caring spirit, a giving grace. May we embrace those around us this day with a thankful heart. 

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