As of Dec. 17, the Mega Millions jackpot was a record $648 million, and if nobody hits it this time we could see the world's first billion dollar jackpot.
It's a rare treat, but if you won it, your soul would not change but for myriad temptations.
My 11-year-old son, Benjamin, and I talked about it, "Dad, if we won the lottery would you let me have a TV in my room?"
"Sorry, but the answer is no. And we may very well not get cable or Netflix, either. But, then again, since you're all on the honor roll (the four Herman kids), maybe we could make a contingency deal for cable and Netflix as long as you all stay on it."
A moment of reflection passed with no talking.
"You realize you would still have to go to college and go to work. Do you know why? (hint) There are at least three good reasons."
After several guesses Ben finally came up with, "Oh, I know. Everybody has to do something, right?"
"Yes-that's one. When you do good work, you feel good."
People were not designed to do nothing every day. The most miserable Americans suffer from slothfulness. Whether they are rich or live in trailer parks, people who do little more than play video games, eat too much, and watch TV all day soon become depressed and many end up on drugs.
On the other hand, we learn in Ecclesiates 5:12: "Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep."
I continued: "And you have to go to college because we don't have a crystal ball to know the future; therefore, you must make yourself relevant to any era by acquiring skills that will always be important such as a nurse or a doctor.
"For example, if you won the lottery and quit school before developing your skills, all you would have is a big pile of money in a bank. God forbid, during the next world war, your bank might disappear overnight leaving you with nothing. However, if you become a doctor, they could never take your skills away from you."
"Lastly, everyone has been endowed with a gift, so God requires everyone to do good work. Just find something you love to do that's good for society and then push your self to see how good you can be. If you do this, you will have a good life whether you win the lottery or not."
Proverbs 22:29: "Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings."
After our chat I realized the false hope the lottery offers, such as Ecclesiastes 5:10: "Whosoever loves money never has money enoughthis too is meaningless. Excessive money represents power and pride and easily leads a soul astray."
One wonders if it is worth it.
And if you're still a doubter or a scoffer, consider the following thought experiment:
[The idea is that we all currently have something (a sound mind), we wouldn't give up for Bill Gates' massive fortune worth about 5 million years of minimum wage labor or 118 times the current Mega Millions jackpot.
I asked my 7th period anatomy and physiology class the day before Thanksgivings break:
"Would you trade your vision, the very eyes in your head, for all of Bill Gates' money?"
Interestingly, most people would rather keep their eyes even though they envy Bill Gates' wealth.
One sweet young man, Willie Summerlin III, said he would seriously consider sacrificing his eyes so his mother wouldn't have to work so hard to take care of his family. So I switched it up on him.
"Willie, would you trade your mother's love for all Bill Gates' money?"
"Never!" He quickly replied.
Then I weaned my class, "So when your loving mother woke you this morning and you opened your eyes to see the light of day once again, why didn't you jump up and down yelling as if you had just won the lottery - but twice?"
They stared in astonishment. A few muttered, "I don't know."
The skinny is that we allow scarcity or rarity to deceive us. Nearly every person all day long has eyes that work and a mother's love, but very few people have a billion dollars so we value money more and take our greatest treasures for granted.
Now isn't that a shame?
Herman is a Warren resident.