Have you ever asked God to help you win the lottery? Be honest. You got that one piece of junk mail saying: “You’re a winner!” And as you looked in the mirror with wide nostrils, you thought: “Doggonit. I AM a winner, aren’t I?”
Of course, a day later you realized, you might be a winner. You’re eligible to win either, a new set of steak knives or the ten million dollar prize. And that’s when you prayed: “Lord, if you help me win the ten million, I promise to…[fill-in-the-blank]. However, as you read the next paragraph, you just might stop praying like this.
Did you know, people who win the lottery tend to have dramatically increased odds of getting divorced, kidnapped, murdered, and sued? They tend to have high depression, suicide and bankruptcy rates. In fact, close to 70% of lottery winners lose all of their money within a few years. Ironically, numerous major university studies found, the more money you win, the more likely you are to go bankrupt! And why? Because, winning the lottery doesn’t change your stewardship problems.
If you were smart with money, you wouldn’t be playing the lottery in the first place. As the scriptures say: “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it” (Prov.13:11). The same is usually true with all big promotions or windfall gains.
We all dream of “life-changing opportunities”…the dream job, the dream platform, the chance opportunity that could change everything. And when we’re impatient or out of sync with God, we’re tempted to fall prey to something I call the “Pot of Gold” Myth (Myth #6 in my book Broken Escalators) It’s the false idea that a golden opportunity, big promotion, or dazzling relationship, will suddenly improve our character or make us happy.
In other words, when God doesn’t seem to be showing up according to OUR timeline, we start “playing the lottery.” We start taking unnecessary risks or foolish shortcuts: We look for the good-looking “fixer-upper spouse;” we take a job that kills our church attendance; we compromise our values in order to hurry our dreams along. And rather than working on our character or our promotability (the two things that are CERTAIN to lead to great gain) we start looking for “circumstantial short-cuts” – the pot of gold – the opportunity that could magically “solve everything.”
For example, why get a budget when you can simply look for a higher paying job? Why bother becoming a better employee, when we can simply shop for a better boss, a better spouse, a better [fill-in-the-blank].
So here’s a more reliable truth: Opportunity doesn’t change your character. It magnifies and reveals it. Before you won the lottery and went bankrupt, no one knew you were an idiot with your money. Now, you’re a perennial moral tale for bloggers, every time there’s a new lottery winner. Your sexual problems weren’t newsworthy until you got that new platform – you won the job; you got the big gig; you finally found the hot-Christian spouse (who’s got a drinking problem) and you gave birth to triplets.
Unfortunately, when we seek promotions that God isn’t giving us, we just fail bigger. And worse, we condemn ourselves to an eternal search for better circumstances rather than living a lifestyle worthy of better circumstances.
In the end, God knows when our character is ready for promotion. And he’s already promised us EVERYTHING once we truly learn the following verse: “To man who pleases Him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness; but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases Him” (Ecclessiates 2:26). WOW!! Now that’s a Bible promise!
In the end, if we really believe the Bible, we won’t waste time being jealous or pining after anyone else’s success. We wouldn’t whine about other people’s success nor would we play the lottery (even though our odds being struck with lightning are better). Rather, we’d focus on ONE SINGLE THING: pleasing God. And when we abandon ourselves to this pursuit, you’ll be surprised what God will add into your life. And He’ll be thrilled to say: “Finally, I can entrust you with more blessings without the risk that you’ll bow down and worship these things.”
“Heavenly Father, help us to know that we won the lottery when we opened up our lives to you. And let it start by appreciating your grace right here in this moment. In Jesus Name, Amen.”
[Excerpted from the book Broken Escalators – chapter four: “How to Talk a Manly Person into Circumcision”]