If you’ve spent much time around church-folk at all, you know to never, ever, ever mention the lottery. The only thing worse than mentioning the lottery is saying you’ve actually thought about playing the lottery. You don’t have to buy a ticket. Just the mere mention that you considered purchasing a ticket is enough to earn more than a few sideways glances the next time you show up at the monthly potluck meal.
I’m no fan of the lottery, and I’ve never played it, but there is one particular story about the lottery I’ve never forgotten. Several years ago, my wife and I attended a church which split into “cell group” meetings during the week. During one of those meetings, the group we were in began to discuss the lottery. Needless to say, there weren’t a lot of positives things said about it, but in the middle of the discussion a woman there said something I’ll always remember. She said she believed God had spoken to her one time when she was driving down the road and told her to stop in at the convenience store she was passing and buy a lottery ticket.
She didn’t stop and buy the ticket, but she also said she heard God about as clearly that day as she had ever heard him. I forget what the winning payout was going to be, but it was fairly significant. She wasn’t torturing herself over her decision, but, at the same time, she said she always wondered what would have happened if she had just gone ahead and bought the ticket. She also said she had never felt compelled to buy a ticket at any time since that day.
Obviously, there was no way to figure out what would happened on that day. Even if the woman went out and bought a ticket today, she wouldn’t be buying it under the same set of circumstances she had set before her that day. By her own estimation, that was a once in a lifetime opportunity … and she missed it.
Nearly six years ago, I embarked on a path I thought would shape my career for the rest of my life. Shortly into the process, though, I was miserable, and I became convinced I had made some sort of mistake. So I quit, convincing myself I was going to follow a different path and patiently wait for the next opportunity to come along.
Well, the years have passed, and I’m still waiting to find out what that opportunity is. Several glimmers of hope have come and gone, but things have remained largely the same. To put things mildly, this period of my life has been extremely difficult. I am thankful for where I am and the opportunities I have been given … but on the days when things don’t go exactly according to plan or I feel like I just can’t go another step, I wonder to myself, “What if…?”.
One of the greatest fears of my life is that I will make a decision which will bump me off of God’s Plan A and shift me onto some sort of purgatorial Plan B which will keep me spinning my wheels forever. Even though everyone in my life has told me I made the right decision all those years ago, I still find myself wondering if I should go back. Did I miss it? And, if I did, where do I go from here?
The truth of the matter, I guess, is that the lottery ticket is gone forever by now, and there is no way to go back and claim those riches. The difficult part, it seems, is figuring out where the next jackpot lies…