The Day I Didn’t Win the Lottery


Possibilities drive us all to do things, say things, and go places we normally wouldn’t.
Possibilities are a place where my greatest passion and my deepest anxiety seem to meet.
I’ve always known this about myself…that I have the tendency to hop from possibility to possibility as much as a sixth grade girl changes her boyfriends.

I suppose I can be a little loose with my possibility chasing. But I can’t help it!
I am perfectly content with saying yes to things simply because “what if I say no?”
I’m content with leaving the normal behind, not because I’m unsatisfied – but because there are always possibilities. They call my name like sirens in the waves and even if I cover my ears my heart still shouts – But what if?”

I hadn’t realized how bad this had gotten until Tuesday afternoon. I left work and was carrying my things to the car when something caught my attention. A small orange piece of paper was dancing in the wind and fell at my feet. It waited for me to take its bait.

I picked up the square piece of paper and flattened it in my palm.
A Lottery ticket. A big jackpot. Several days old.
Oh the possibilities!” my heart cried out.

See, I don’t gamble. And I don’t spend my money on things like lottery tickets.
So, I immediately felt silly. Possibilities? Hardly.

I put the ticket back on the ground (Littering…Gasp!)
Before my hand could even fumble for the car door I was bombarded.
Every possible possibility that could possibly ever come from this decision rushed through me and regret sat itself down on my chest. I had to get the ticket back.

(Cue embarrassing chase around parking lot trying to retrieve mystery piece of paper while simultaneously guarding my life from other vehicles. Wow was I desperate.)

Finally I was able to catch up to the ticket. My precious.
The possibilities were endless.
What if it was a winner? What if the numbers matched? What if this was the answered prayer to get out of student loan debt, to help our families, to allow me to work full time at the church?
What if I could bless so many people because I picked up this ticket?
What if this ticket was my way out of this season of financial stress and burnout?

I slipped the ticket into my pocket and got in the car to drive home.

On my strenuous six minute drive the possibilities kept pulling my thoughts back to the soggy piece of paper in my pocket…filled with promise. I couldn’t even make it through the first red light without pulling out my phone to look up my winning numbers.

I waited for my numbers on the screen and knew in my heart that this was going to be the day; the day everything would change.

Here we go!
And the jackpot is . . .

someone else’s.

Not a single number matched. Not. Even. Close.
I double checked. I triple checked. Nada.

Just like that those possibilities packed their bags and slammed the door on me as quickly as they had made my heart their home. It’s amazing how quickly we can get disappointed on the heels of something that at best was a longshot.

The rest of the way home I couldn’t help but laugh at myself.
At my foolish desperation.
I parked the car, crumpled up the ticket, and cried for loss of my childlike faith.

I realize that most people probably would have done the same thing. Most people would have chased that piece of paper around in a battle for their future just like I did.
We can’t bear to put the ticket down because what if we put it down and it was literally the ticket to our new life.

Most people would have kept the ticket like I did.

But I’m not supposed to be like most people.
I’m not supposed to be like most people and it makes me angry that sometimes I am.
I’m not supposed to let my dependency wax and wane with every worldly possibility.
I’m not supposed fix my eyes on the earth – but on the things above that I cannot yet see.
I am not supposed to strain and strive to win an earthly prize.
Or chase pieces of paper shouting wordly lies.
I’m not supposed to be like everyone else.
And neither are you.

Jesus for us and in us should make us different than the rest of the world.
But sometimes we need a reminder.
Here are the two things I was reminded of when I didn’t win the lottery:

1. THE WORLD WORKS TO PROVIDE FOR ITSELF AND TO DEFINE ITS OWN FUTURE. 

But not me. And not you.


{Psalm 73:26} 
My flesh and my heart may fail
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.


We don’t have to grasp with desperate fingers at every single possibility that knocks on our doors because HE IS OUR PORTION.

When your heart and your flesh epically, daily and predictably fail you, money will not strengthen you. A big house and fancy clothes and a put together life will not strengthen you.

He will be your strength. He will be my strength.

Do you know what portion means? It means “an individual’s part or share of something.
You have to realize that when God is your portion it means that you are able to share his inheritance. You are able to share his wealth.

I’ll take my God’s portion over the world’s limited wealth any day .

2. THE WORLD WORKS TO MAKE ITSELF HAPPY.

But not you. And not me.


{Psalm 3:3}
But you, O Lord,
are a shield around me,
my glory and the lifter of my head.


How in the world has everyone gotten so disillusioned to think that they create joy?I have heard so many people say that they will be happy when ____.

I’ll be happy when I finally get to move out of my parents’ house.
I’ll be happy when I can get a good paying job.
I’ll be happy when I can get married.
I’ll be happy when I can travel. When I can change the way I look. When I can be successful.

But these things are just shadows of what we can have.
When life is beating us down, money will not lift our heads up for very long. When we are in a pit of despair, our possessions, relationships, and status will not lift our heads.

God is our joy-maker. God is the lifter of our heads.


{Psalm 16:11}
You make known to me the paths of life;
You fill me with JOY in your Presence.


I don’t need a piece of paper to open possibilities for me.
I don’t need a piece of paper to change my future or bring me joy.
And neither do you.

So no, maybe we aren’t swimming in a sea of easy money like Mr. Scrooge.
Maybe we aren’t able to open a whole new world of possibilities on our own.
Maybe we didn’t win the lottery this week…

But then again, if you think about it, maybe we already have.


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