Red was a good man, and he had a good heart – a heart for the Lord. Red spent hours daydreaming about what he would do with the money, should his numbers be called. He even went so far as to draw up a spreadsheet on his laptop, listing all the folks with which he’d share the winnings, and the largest chunk of the cash would go into the ministry...
Red wasn’t his real name, but all his life he wanted to have a nickname… a handle if you will, that people would grab onto, making him more memorable. One of his favorite movies was The Shawshank Redemption, where Morgan Freeman’s character has the nickname ‘Red’. That seemed odd to Red because Morgan isn’t red…he’s black. And then there’s Red Foxx, again a black man. The only thing red about Red Foxx were the faces of his audience, when he told his off-color jokes. But our Red IS red. At least his hair is, and so it seemed fitting.
Like all of us, Red had his pet vices. For instance, he loved to gamble. Now we’re not talking about gambling as in taking chances in life. Red’s gambling was more along the line of shooting craps and playing poker…and pulling the one armed bandits... you know - slot machines. And if you don’t know – well then, all the better for you. But that’s how Red spent his entertainment dollar.
Now the mother lode of all wagers is the infamous lottery ticket. And Red, who was otherwise a pretty careful guy with the budget, always found a way to get his coveted semi-weekly numbers. Those are the numbers he dreamed would be called. In fact, the spreadsheet on his laptop was file-named “The Dream”.
A foundation would be set up, Red imagined. He’d name it “Win the Lost Foundation” or “Omega Ministries” (because we’re living in the end-times, ya know) or something cool like that. And Red promised God he would do it right, cutting out the wasteful overhead that other ministries carelessly ignore – trimming the fat so that the lean beef of the gospel could go forth to all the corners of the Earth.
“Oh, God”, Red prayed, “If you chose to ‘use’ me in this way, I’ll be SO jealous over every penny…” AND GOD SPOKE, and said, “Do that now, Red. Get jealous over every penny you have now.” Then Red remembered something he’d seen in a book once about being faithful over little, and THEN being made ruler over much. “Let’s see”, Red thought. “What book was that?”
You’re probably screaming right now, “It’s the Bible!” And of course, you’re right. And Red realized it too. In fact, Red realized that what he was dealing with here is not just good advice, but a Spiritual Law – one of those Laws of the Universe that God set up, that scientists have not discovered and that Red had ignored… up until now.
So Red quit buying lottery tickets, and he quit going to casinos. Oh, not because he felt like it was a ‘sin’ or anything like that. Red quit listening to condemnation preachers years ago. But Red didn’t quit listening to God. And God had reminded him of something that, rather than being an onerous rule to be followed, was actually a game plan for victory.
Maybe Red will get that opportunity to cut out the fat and help win the world. But he now understands the metaphor of building one house at a time. And to build a strong house you start with a firm foundation, laid stone by stone with a jealous watch over the laying of each.
You go, Red!