The magazine article summarized the life of a former winning NCAA basketball coach and network sports announcer. Throughout his colorful coaching career he had been obsessed with the game and with winning. But years later, stricken with cancer, he came to realize the triviality of the goods and values to which he had been passionately devoted. “You get sick and you say to yourself, Sports means nothing, and that feels terrible.”
Because he had spent little time with his wife and children, he confessed, “I figured Id have 20 years in the big time, who knows, maybe win three national titles, then pack it in at 53 or 54.I was going to make it all up to them, all the time Id been away. It sounds so silly now. But it went on and on, that insatiable desire to conquer the world.”
In a little country community a farmer had a dog who spent part of his time sitting by the side of the highway waiting for big trucks. When the dog saw a large truck coming around the corner, he would get ready and as it passed him, he would take out after it down the road, barking and doing his best to overtake it. One day the farmers neighbor said, “Sam, do you think that hound of yours is ever going to catch a truck?”
“Well, Bill,” Sam replied, “That isnt what worries me. What worries me is what he would do if he caught one.”
Many of us in life are like that hound. We give our lives to pursuing goals that would have little value if we did succeed in reaching them.
Christopher Winans, in his book, Malcolm Forbes: The Man Who Had Everything, tells of a motorcycle tour that Forbes took through Egypt in 1984 with his Capitalist Tool motorcycle team. After viewing the staggering burial tomb of King Tut, Forbes seemed to be in a reflective mood. As they were returning to the hotel in a shuttle bus, Forbes turned to one of his associates and asked with all sincerity: “Do you think Ill be remembered after I die?”
Forbes is remembered. He is remembered as the man who coined the phrase, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” That was the wisdom of Malcolm Forbes. In fact, that was his ambition. Thats why he collected scores of motorcycles. Thats why he would pay over a million dollars for a Faberge egg. Thats why he owned castles, hot air balloons and countless other toys that he can no longer access.
The Lord Jesus Christ gave us words of superior wisdom when he said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). It is a fatally deficient wisdom that declares “He who dies with the most toys wins.”
Cecil Rhodes helped to carve out the politics and business of South Africa. He was wealthy, famous, and powerful. One evening, he happened to be in the company of Bramwell Booth, son of the founder of the Salvation Army. General Booth was in the next compartment of the train, and the son and Rhodes were together. Booth leaned over to Rhodes and asked, “Mr. Rhodes, are you a happy man?”
The man seemed to be surrounded by depression and gloom. Rhodes gripped the arms of the seat and said, “Happy? I, happy? No!” Booth then told the powerful world figure that there was only one place to find real happiness. “That is down at the feet of the crucified Savior, because it is only there we can be freed from our sins.”
“Yes,” Rhodes said quietly, and then he added: “I would give all I possess to believe what that old man in the next carriage believes!”