True wealth The richest person I know owns few earthly treasures

Published 9:29 am Monday, May 5, 2014

One of the richest people I know in this world may also be among the most needy. But I’d rather walk in her shoes than those of anyone I know.
Norma Johnson is my Sunday School teacher at First Free Will Baptist Church, and she’s among the best.
Norma and her husband don’t have high-paying jobs. She cleans houses for a living, and he is a security guard. They don’t have a new car. In fact, they drive an older-model truck which is falling apart piece by piece. When one piece quits working, they replace it, and the truck keeps on running.
They have a modest home, but you can bet it is clean, and it is one Norma takes pride in. Home, whether it’s a cottage or a mansion means a lot, especially if you don’t have a place to lay your head at night.
One Sunday morning, I noticed Norma took five dollars of her hard-earned money and placed it in the offering plate for a special cause. I put two dollars in. The difference? It was all that I had with me, but I had more dollars at home. Norma gave the greater gift, and no doubt received the greater blessing. She left blessed, and me, a little ashamed.
She is also one of the most humble, appreciative and thoughtful people I know. Norma is always sending cards, phoning to check on people who are sick or facing trials, and is constantly doing for others.
Norma doesn’t have a lot of the conveniences that most people do, but she never complains.
The one thing that makes Norma rich is her faith and her compassion for others. Every day she depends on God to supply her needs. The Scriptures tell us that God hath chosen in most part the poor to be rich in faith.
Norma’s only wealth is her faith and her belief that God will supply all her needs.
Norma has shared about growing up in an orphanage, marrying young, and caring for two sick brothers, one who died of cancer, and another who was a paraplegic.
She’s living proof that the trials of life, if we place them in God’s hands, enrich us and make us stronger in faith.
I’ve never had a lot of money, and at this point in my life, I do not expect a windfall. But, I can’t complain. I’ve always had a roof over my head, food on the table, clothes to wear, a family that I love, and few troubles.
Like many people, you may wish you had more money than you do. If you’re an American, though, you’re living in the richest nation on Earth. Not only that, but no matter where you live, you’re alive during the wealthiest time in the world’s history.
My neighbor often reminds me that as we get older our priorities and wants change. “The things that I once thought mattered, no longer matter to me. Your want list becomes a lot shorter,” she says. And I find that she is right.
My mother had a strong faith. She often reminds me of the widow in the scriptures, who never ran out of meal and oil.
She always managed with her meager resources and paltry pantry to prepare three meals almost every day when we were growing up. She not only fed her family, but many of the neighborhood children who were there at mealtime. It seems like the bowls kept getting fuller rather than empty.
Money can solve a lot of problems and do a lot of things. Solomon also said money was a defense against trouble. Poverty and prosperity each have their own advantages.
A wise Agur in Proverbs 30: 7-9 prayed that God would deliver him from both riches and poverty. He chose moderate financial success as his goal – a convenient amount of money would be just right. He knew that riches could lead to presumption against God, and he knew poverty could lead to theft.
His prayer: God just give me today what I need. Not too little and not too much.
Norma is the perfect example of what it is to be rich. It’s not what you have, but it’s what you do with what you have. Norma may not feel rich, but she truly is. She doesn’t depend on money to make her happy, but she depends wholly in Him, who richly provides. She knows the big banker.
Always remember this: it is not gold, real estate, stocks, mutual funds, businesses, or money that make you rich. It is what you know – your financial IQ – about gold, real estate, stocks, hard work, and so on, that will make you rich!
Recently, I read an anonymous poem called “Live A Life That Matters.”
The poem begins: “Ready or not, someday it will come to an end. Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned. The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.”
In paraphrasing from the poem; what will matter will be not what I got, but what I gave. What will matter will not be my success, but my significance. What matters is not what I learned, but what I taught. What matters is that I lived with integrity, compassion, and generosity to enrich, empower, and encourage others.
Week after week as I’ve sat under Norma’s teachings, I’ve learned that living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It isn’t a matter of circumstance, but of choice.

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