Thursday, December 6, 2012

If You Won the Lottery . . .?

What would you do if you won the lottery? I don’t mean a $10 instant prize, or even $100 or $1,000. I mean the BIG lottery?

Last week the national Powerball award topped $580 million, and people bought winning tickets in Missouri and Arizona. Seems appropriate one would be sold in the “Show Me State.” When the winner arrives to collect his or her share, they will say, “Show me the ticket,” and the winner will reply, “Show me the money!”

I’m not a gambler. If I played a game of poker, I’d only want chips made from potatoes. When my financial advisor tested my “risk tolerance,” I came out only slightly more adventurous than a person demanding to be strapped into his chair at the local restaurant. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” the investment adage goes, but as far as I’m concerned, nothing ventured, nothing lost.

So breaking form last week, I bought a lottery ticket. My wife said why not, our chances were as good as the other 150 million people that bought tickets. I also thought it would be interesting to honestly consider what I would do if I won. If you don’t buy a ticket (they’re $2, in case you don’t know), you have zero chance of winning – so I bought a ticket to ponder the “what if” question.

Asking, “What would I do if I won the lottery?” typically refers to use of the money. You could be philanthropic and contribute part of it to your church, help the poor, or support the war against hangnails. You could give some of it to loved ones and friends, or buy them lavish gifts. You could invest it – wisely or recklessly, take your pick. Or you could do your best to spend it all on selfish indulgences.

But when I ask myself, “What would I do…?” my question is more along the lines of “what would it do to me?” Being optimistically pessimistic, I thought about winning – and then losing.

I’ve heard stories of lottery millionaires whose lives were ruined by instant wealth. I’d like to think if I won a lot of money I’d utilize it wisely, but since I’ve never had millions, I can’t be certain. As 1 Timothy 6:10 states, “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.”

What if I shared some of the money with family members, but they didn’t think I gave them enough, that I was being stingy? And I’d probably find I had lots of “friends” and far-removed relatives I’d never heard of prior to my sudden affluence. Proverbs 19:4-6 says, “Wealth brings many friends…and everyone is the friend of a man who gives gifts.”

We’d probably have to change our phone number (we still have a landline), or move to avoid pesky solicitors. I’d have to get off Facebook. Being famous for being famous has its downsides.

Think of other possible consequences. One mathematics expert calculated that compared to winning the lottery, you’re three times more likely to die from a falling coconut; seven times more likely to die from fireworks, and far more likely to die from flesh-eating bacteria. If I had won, that could mean chances of experiencing such dire calamities would be even greater. I wouldn’t want to spend my remaining days being worried about falling coconuts, fearful of attending another 4th of July fireworks celebration, or risk becoming germophobic.

There’s something to be said for not being wealthy. A huge bank account could result in becoming prideful, arrogant and self-reliant. When I pray, “give us this day our daily bread,” I want to mean it.

Proverbs 30:8-9 says: “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; 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.” 

Lord, give me just enough – and that will be enough.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Winning the lottery will definitely put you in the spotlight for a while. But I think as long as you don't make any big splashes to keep that particular interest kindled and ignore most offers and media attention, it'll all die down and let you get on with your life. And then you and your family can start using your winnings to your heart's desire. Cheers!