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Pick Six, or Pick the Truth
By Joanne Malley

Mere minutes before the lottery jackpot is released to a winner, the activity in my town shifts gears at an accelerated pace.

Hordes of people are en route to purchase the winning ticket that promises dreams come true. Lawnmower engines are shut, kids are shuffled into minivans--whether clothed or not, and adults run from the house waving dollar bills at a frenetic pace.

Vehicles screech to a halt at the front doors of the convenience store and people blast through the entrance, void of manners. Everyone in the brood is wheezing, perspiring and flushed in the face. All charge full force to the counter like a pack of gazelles in heat. Their mission is to be all over that ticket machine like hair on a gorilla.

I happened to be at the convenience store one of those frenzied days and, needless to say, I was left standing at the checkout line without any service. In a cyclone of fear, both cashiers rushed to the ticket machines to quell the commotion, and my French Vanilla brew and I were jilted.

I've never seen such a display of desperation--except for the morning after Thanksgiving, when shoppers maul each other at 6 a.m. at the department stores to buy stuff their friends and family are sure to return on December 26.

Well, the poor girls at the counter were obviously threatened when they caught several people salivate and foam at the mouth near the roll of instant-winning scratch-off tickets. When the lady in blue showed her fangs and sneered, I convinced myself that purchasing a cup of coffee didn't compare to staying alive.

Of all days to forget my camera.

I gladly left everyone at the counter to debate who would be the next millionaire. After all, they had what they needed--"A dollar and a dream," right?

They obviously envisioned packing up their problems, daily drudgeries and children, to move to a mansion, with a lifestyle change that guaranteed supposed lifelong bliss.

Even though they probably knew their chances were one in 86 million, they were convinced they had the winning ticket and already had their house on the market and the slow cooker in the trash. Why not? A personal chef would soon make their meals while they sat poolside.

I was desperate that day too, but was driven by my need for caffeine. I arrived at another establishment to obtain some coffee, but from the looks of things through the windows, it was the same insane performance as at the previous store.

I sat in my car for a few minutes to watch because I never pass up the chance for a top-notch show or a good laugh. However, I'm no animal. I did call 911 before the last person lost his teeth and hair. Then, I went home to brew my own coffee in a safer environment.

If only we could keep up that pace in our search for prosperity and abundance through a different venue. What if people suddenly began investigating the word of God for their search for "more," instead of taking a chance with a ticket that usually turns up empty promises?

Maybe it's me, but I'd rather achieve my dreams through a sure thing than go through all that sweating, wheezing and inconvenience for a lousy one-dollar ticket. By doing it my way, I also bypass the need for an inhaler, learn a thing or two from an expert, and reap rewards greater than a built in pool and a chef wearing a silly hat.

My way ensures that if I wait upon the Lord, I'll prosper in ways that I could never dream. Happiness and godliness are not achieved when we search for things other than God, but when we allow God to work in us through His word. In doing so, spiritual prosperity makes any amount of money look minuscule in comparison and proves to be everlasting.

So, I choose to leave my dollar bill at the counter for those who really want that ticket or cup of coffee, but pray that they'll be spared the havoc that almost cost me my life--in more ways than one.

I learned two valuable lessons that day, so I'd like to share themů.

"It doesn't take six numbers to be a winner," and "Stay home and brew your own coffee!"

"If they listen and obey God, then they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives."
(Job 36:11a NLT)

Joanne Malley is married and has two school-age children. A love of poetry and journal writing ignited during adolescence. Her writing has grown to include short stories and articles as well, with the hopes of touching those who read her work through inspiration or humor. She has been published in Cross-Times, Heartstrings, The Good Life and FaithWriter's Quarterly Anthologies. Several stories, as well as poetry, have been showcased on web magazines. She is a periodic contributing writer for Sisters-in-the-Lord and FaithWriters magazine, and is currently serving up a variety of articles under her column, "Minestrone Soup" for Cross-Times Magazine. If you would like to write to Joanne, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.