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Winning Lotteries and Discerning Vocations

Most of us at one point or another have played the game, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” It’s really kind of fun watching people’s eyes light up as they talk about paying off bills for themselves, their families, and their friends. It’s even a little fun watching them get giddy about all the things they might buy if money were no object. But what I like the most about playing the money-is-no-object game is watching what happens when that silly smile is wiped from their mouth and that greedy glint in their eye turns to a distant stare.

I like that part because that’s when it hits. That’s the moment when the person gets really serious about what they would do with all of that money. That’s the moment when they say: “You know what I would really do with that money?” In my experience, the answer to that question usually involves something like buying lots of land, inviting loved ones to live close, and doing something truly good (whether that’s feeding the hungry, building a church, funding a program, or starting a charity).

Then when the conversation turns silent, that’s when I like to ask: “So why aren’t you doing those things now?” After a long pause, either the person simply looks at me with disdain for bursting their bubble, changes the subject, or gives a half-hearted response about responsibilities and “living life in the real world.”

None of us is naïve enough to believe that every person would do great things with such money, not only because of what we believe about human sin, but also because there are plenty of stories about people who have won lotteries and turned to drugs, illicit sex, or some other form of moral nonsense. But I still think it’s a fair question: why don’t we live like we just won the lottery?

Obviously the vast majority of us will never have those kinds of no-worries bank accounts, but the question we must ask ourselves is this: why do we live our lives thinking about some ideal moment when we’re going to have enough financial security, enough inner peace, and enough vocational clarity to give our lives completely to God?

Now, don’t get me wrong, many of us do try very hard to follow God’s will. We pray and we live lives that impact others in a very positive way. But what I’m talking about here is living like many Christians lived in the early Church; I’m also talking about living as if we were literally commissioned like the Apostles in the Gospel According to Matthew (28:17-20).

"And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age’."

So ask yourself this: do I live each day acting as if I have already won the greatest prize in all of human history? Do I live my life knowing that I too was commissioned to work for Him and Him alone? Do I pray about my own vocation? Do I pray that others recognize their vocation? Do I pray for those who live their life consecrated to the Lord? Let us pray for each other so that we may all decide to live our lives in this way.


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