Carl Atwood entered the “Hoosier Millionaire” lottery scratch-off game and had a lucky ticket. His prize was the opportunity to compete on a television show with the hopes of winning $1 million. You might say that his luck continued because he won $57,000 during the game show. The seventy-three-year-old Atwood certainly felt good as he left the studio to go home.
However, at that point, his luck ran out. When he returned to his home in Elwood, about 45 miles northeast of Indianapolis, Indiana, he parked his car near the grocery store where he had purchased the ticket. As he strolled across Main Street, a black pickup rounded the corner and struck Atwood. The head injuries he suffered proved fatal.
This tragic experience reminds me of the farmer in Jesus’ parable, the one who had his best crop ever. After he counted his good fortune he made plans to himself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19).
However, just like Carl Atwood, this man’s experience took an unexpected twist. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’” (Luke 12:20). Just when he thought he had everything, he had nothing.
We are all tempted to think that money will solve all of our problems, that there is a certain amount of money that will make us complete if it can be attained. Much of life is motivated by this belief. It might be the poor woman who believes that if she could just purchase the two-bedroom home on the corner she would be set. Or, it might be the entrepreneur who has convinced himself that he is close to the big business deal that will make him complete. Or, perhaps it is you or I who are expecting satisfaction after the next raise or job promotion.
The reality is that it never happens. If your satisfaction depends on money, you will never have enough. Jesus reminds us, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). The successful farmer in Jesus’ parable and Carl Atwood are vivid reminders that money does not guarantee anything.