Musings on My Lottery Ticket

By: Marc Santom
Saturday, September 4th, 2010

As I write this, I’m looking at the “lottery ticket” lying next to my laptop. It’s not an actual lottery ticket, mind you, but rather a scratch & win ticket from The Great Grocery Giveaway. Some local grocery stores give them out to customers at the checkout line. For some reason, the checkout gal at Food Lion handed me a stack of 47 of them the other day. So I brought the stack home, handed my kids a few coins and ordered them to start stratchin’ so we could start winnin’.

The goal of the scratcher is to pick three of the nine circles to scratch off—and if all three match, you get whatever is revealed in the prize box at the bottom. After my kids unsuccessfully scratched through half the stack, I grabbed one and, using my fingernail, scratched off three circles really fast and, lo and behold, all three matched! My kids thought I was superman and immediately exclaimed, “Daddy, scratch the prize box to see if we’re rich!” All of a sudden, the possibility of winning up to $250,000 warmed my soul and placed a spark in my eye. I was experiencing hope for a better life as I thought, “I could be rich and things could get real good real fast.” Amid the brewing excitement in my mind, however, I paused long enough to observe what was going in within me…

I couldn’t bring myself to scratch off the prize box to see what I had won. In fact, I still haven’t. Why is that? Why haven’t I? Thinking about it more, I realize that I like living in denial about things. The fact is that the cash prize awaiting me is probably $1.00—like most of the other Great Grocery Giveaway tickets.  And, of course, a $1 prize is anything but life changing and excitement-worthy. What I loved about this winning ticket (besides the fact that I wasn’t officially gambling because I didn’t pay for this ticket) is that it gave me the power of hope—hope for the promise of a better life. At least the kind of better life that can be had by lots of money. This hope energized me, causing me to daydream and fantasize about what life could be like for me and my family if we became instantly rich.  No more tightening of the belt every month. No more shopping at thrift stores. No more telling the kids, “No, we can’t afford that.”

As I pondered the promises of instant wealth (knowing full well that God could choose to bless someone with a winning Great Grocery Giveaway ticket), I was saddened at how quickly my heart attached itself to the hollow promise of instant wealth. There’s always a part of me that’s looking for an escape—and escape from the demands of work, from the expectation of being a good provider for my family and from the reality of having to trust God daily to meet my needs. John 6:29 came to mind: “Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” Sometimes I just want a break from the work of trusting my God for daily bread…for that manna that spoils if you try to keep it for the next day. I want my heart to be energized by the grace and hope of Christ—and the love that’s been shed all over it by the Spirit of God (Rom. 5:5).  I’m weary of my heart holding out for hope that will disappoint. For, indeed, even if that veiled prize box were to reveal the grand prize of a quarter million dollars, deep down I know that, apart from the Spirit of God, every post-tax cent I got would eventually disappoint me.  And to the degree that I place my hope in such potential idols-in-the-making is the degree to which my contentment for the life God has graced me with is sabotaged.

So, here I go. As I am writing this sentence, I am about to pick up my “lotto ticket” sitting next to me. Allow me to pause, stop living in denial, and scratch the prize box…

Yeah. I just won $1.

Back to work…

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Marc Santom
This entry was posted by on Saturday, September 4th, 2010 at 3:29 pm and is filed under Faith & Culture, Spiritual Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Musings on My Lottery Ticket”

  1. Jason Wermuth says:

    Awesome article Marc. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I am sorry you didn’t win, but it was probably just so that we could still be friends. People with money … change.