Thursday, October 19, 2017

White Gold

The World Series is near! The following, from March 4, 2007, may be my favorite baseball related lesson ever!

I couldn't believe the headline, trumpeting Baseball's First Billionaire. No athlete is worth that much! Beginning to read the account, I was confused because the player, Matt White of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was someone I had never heard of. A twenty-nine year old journeyman, the left-handed pitching White is on the Dodgers' Spring roster but no lock to be with the team when the regular season begins. Sometimes, we forget that athletes exist in lives outside the spotlight, where character is defined by more than the talent to throw a ball. It seems that Matt White has an elderly Great Aunt Josephine who several years ago needed money as she prepared for life in a nursing home. In an act of family loyalty, he purchased fifty acres of her Massachusetts' property for $50,000. White paid scant attention to the land until this fall when he considered building a house on the plot. Searching for a good location, he kept noticing sheets of rock that seemed to be everywhere. Calling in a geologist, he learned the material is known as Goshen stone, in demand for building and landscaping. White has been informed that there is approximately twenty-four million tons of this deposit on/under his turf. With the going rate for Goshen stone being $100 per ton, a little calculation tells us there might be $2.5 billion on Great Aunt Josephine's former fifty acres. This is a guy who is a struggling career minor leaguer, a marginal at best major league prospect. No one actually expects Matt White to become a billionaire. Still, one name does come to mind; Jed Clampett. But the Clampett clan's oil fortune in the Beverly Hillbillies sitcom was only about twenty million dollars, or a drop in the quarry compared to the Goshen stone windfall. The interest alone from Matt White's mineral deposit could dwarf the riches of Jed-Granny-Ellie May-Jethro. Plus, this baseball player is much more cultured than the least-welcomed neighbors in Mr. Drysdale's neighborhood.

I could write for days about this story. How many spiritual applications could we come up with? For starters, Matt White is in this position because he followed the Bible teachings to take care of your family, especially in regards to widows. Isaiah 58:7 lists a condition of God's attentiveness to our petitions as this: "not to turn away from your own flesh and blood." How about Jesus' Parable of the Treasure Hidden in a Field, in Matthew 13:44? That piece of land, like this one, was not inaccessible. How many others walked its paths, never dreaming of the vast wealth it contained? Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to this prize that others overlooked. How about distractions? The Messiah told us we can't serve two masters. White's lifelong goal is at risk because of the media's fascination with his human interest angle, bombarding him with interview requests while he needs to be focusing on conditioning and working his arm into game shape. Matt White wants to be judged for his baseball ability while the rest of us are enthralled with his potential to suddenly become fabulously rich. His great discovery can derail him from his career. This past week, my classes studied the Parable of the Rich Fool. I asked my students if they would rather be A: poor but wise or B: rich and foolish. Not surprisingly, many chose option B. We have this belief that money can solve all our problems. I believe it may cause Matt White headaches he never considered the first time he kicked that slab of white rock. How about the Parable of the Talents? The master expected the servants to invest what he gave them. Two did, successfully, while the other simply buried it in the soil. How many of us leave our abilities under the surface, never putting forth the effort to excavate the gifts the Lord has graciously bestowed on us? Matt White can leave that Goshen stone untouched and it will be like so many of us, an unbelievable vein of untapped potential. WHEW!! So many lessons, so few hours until school in the morning! I hope Matt White makes it. Maybe the Lord entrusted him with these tremendous riches because He knew the sudden wealth and fame would be in good hands. I am confident of one thing. I bet somewhere in a Massachusetts' assisted living center, Great Aunt Josephine is being taken care of in a manner befitting her position.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Fear of death increases in exact proportion to increase in wealth."
Ernest Hemingway

God bless,
Luke 18:1

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