Dec 10 2012
I noted with a little bit of interest that there was a recent lottery with a $550 million prize. I didn’t buy a ticket, because I don’t gamble on things like this. I cannot say, however, that I haven’t fantasized long and hard about what I’d do with a huge amount of money if I got it.
I once entered a contest where the prize was a billion dollars. That’s right — a billion of them. Oh, did I want to win that contest! I had no interest in winning it for me. What I wanted to do was to create a foundation that would take that money and use it to help the world. I even had a name for the foundation — The John Beresford Tipton Group.
If you know who the fictional John Beresford Tipton was, you are as old as I am. He was the benefactor in “The Millionaire,” a show that ran from 1955 to 1960. Tipton gave away $1 million every week to a stranger, and the show followed those strangers to determine whether they used the money for good or for ill. (Fluffy says that $1 million in 1955 dollars would be worth $8,282,895.68 today. I’d be happy with that amount!)
I wasn’t just going to give the billion dollars away willy-nilly. What a can of worms that would be! On the contrary, I had a friend, Dennis, who was really good at making things happen. I thought I could form this nonprofit corporation and have him run it, with the idea that he and his staff would dole out the money to groups that would raise matching funds to do worthwhile projects in their communities.
I didn’t care what the projects were. Drilling wells in Africa would have been one of them, because a lot of the people there are in great need of water. There are a lot of huge needs like that, all around the world. Dennis and his team could have made a big difference everywhere they went.
But there were little things too. At the time, Dennis’s wife Carla was incensed because a department store was about to be built on Mirror Ridge, a hill in our area that was so named because it served as a signaling place during the Civil War. I thought it would be nifty to buy the land and put a park there that everyone could use, preserving that little bit of history and making a picnic spot for the community.
After all my hoping, and even all my prayers, I didn’t win the contest. Nobody did. I guarantee you that the company that sponsored the contest was very glad nobody guessed the right numbers and they didn’t have to give that prize away. Even so, I fully realize that if God had wanted me to win, I would have done so and the company would have had to bite the bullet and dole out the money to me.
The John Beresford Tipton Group was never organized, and all the exciting things I planned never did get done. I never did employ Dennis, so he and Carla eventually moved to Colorado. He died a few years ago, and is now doing his good works on the other side of the veil.
Every time we drive by the big Kohl’s store today, I think how much prettier that hill would be if I had won that contest. Of course, most of our friends shop at that store. They are probably just as glad that I didn’t win the prize.
I still enter contests and think, “What if?” What if I had enough money to get the medical treatment I need that isn’t covered by our insurance? What if I had enough money to make our house handicapped-accessible so I could actually use the house the way it was intended to be used? What if I had enough money to help my sister who could use a little financial assistance, or buy us a used car that is big enough to hold my scooter and yet comfortable enough that I don’t cry from the pain of riding in it for more than an hour?
The thing is, none of the “What ifs?” matter. God knows what I want and what I need. If He doesn’t give those things to me, there’s a reason for it. I have to trust that He knows better than I do. So when I see other people — strangers — winning the contests instead of myself, I rejoice for them. I, who have the gospel, am getting greater blessings. They deserve the consolation prize.