A Terrible Deathbed
I once read of a man who bought a luxurious house and filled it with expensive and spectacular furnishings. After taking a friend on a tour through its many spacious rooms, the owner of the mansion asked proudly, “Well, what do you think of it?” He expected to hear lavish praise, so he was stunned when his quest responded, “It is gorgeous; but to be perfectly frank, things like this make a deathbed terrible.”
George W. Truett, a well-known pastor, was invited to dinner in the home of a very wealthy man in Texas. After the meal, the host led him to a place where they could get a good view of the surrounding area.
Pointing to the oil wells punctuating the landscape, he boasted, “Twenty-five years ago I had nothing. Now, as far as you can see, its all mine.” Looking in the opposite direction at his sprawling fields of grain, he said, “Thats all mine.” Turning east toward huge herds of cattle, he bragged, “Theyre all mine.” Then pointing to the west and a beautiful forest, he exclaimed, “That too is all mine.”
He paused, expecting Dr. Truett to compliment him on his great success. Truett, however, placing one hand on the mans shoulder and pointing heavenward with the other, simply said, “How much do you have in that direction?” The man hung his head and confessed, “I never thought of that.”
How Much Land Does a Man Need'
Leo Tolstoy once wrote a story about a successful peasant farmer who was not satisfied with his lot. He wanted more of everything. One day he received a novel offer. For 1000 rubles, he could buy all the land he could walk around in a day. The only catch in the deal was that he had to be back at his starting point by sundown. Early the next morning he started out walking at a fast pace. By midday he was very tired, but he kept going, covering more and more ground. Well into the afternoon he realized that his greed had taken him far from the starting point. He quickened his pace and as the sun began to sink low in the sky, he began to run, knowing that if he did not make it back by sundown the opportunity to become an even bigger landholder would be lost. As the sun began to sink below the horizon he came within sight of the finish line. Gasping for breath, his heart pounding, he called upon every bit of strength left in his body and staggered across the line just before the sun disappeared. He immediately collapsed, blood streaming from his mouth. In a few minutes he was dead. Afterwards, his servants dug a grave. It was not much over six feet long and three feet wide. The title of Tolstoys story was: How Much Land Does a Man Need?
Money Is the Goal
College students know what they want. Money. According to a survey conducted by the American Council on Education in 1987, 75 percent of the 200,000 incoming freshmen who were polled felt that being well-off financially is either an “essential” or a “very important” goal. And 7l percent said the key reason they were going to college was so they could get high-paying jobs when they graduate. Theres something else: The percentage of freshmen who thought it was vital to develop a meaningful philosophy of life was at an all-time lowonly 39 percent.