I had a dream, and in that dream my wife and I were standing in the midst of a never-ending field. As far as we could see were neatly cultivated rows of seedlings that had sprouted to a height of six or eight inches. The plants looked to be spaced about six or eight feet apart. The rows were also about 8 feet apart, and as my wife and I walked the rows they seemed endless. They extended as far as one could see to the North, South, East and West. After several paces I cried out, “What is all this?” A voice from above then said, “These are the seeds you’ve planted in people.” With that I fell to my knees. My wife placed her hand on my shoulder and began to sob.
When I told my wife of the dream the following day she had the same reaction; she sobbed.
Sometime back I had another dream. In that dream I had died and was in a casket at the funeral home. The line of people to see me and pay their respects was backed up for miles. When I woke up I somehow knew what the dream meant. I wasn’t going to die right away, although I will eventually, it meant I made an impact on many. (Now that’s the true definition of success.)
I’ve been on that upper rung of success. Quite frankly, it’s not always glamorous. I willfully gave up a lucrative business, and to be honest I’m happier now than I have ever been.
The world thinks having it all materially is grand, but there’s smallness thereof. Society would never say there’s greatness in nothing. Being meek and humble is considered weakness, but I beg to differ. An individual who’s considerably happy, but has little financially, is truly rich in my opinion. For I have lived both sides of the coin.
I’ve known several wealthy people in my life and the lion’s share of them were downright miserable. I had a boss once who was so wealthy he bought his wife a chain of shoe stores ~ they eventually got a divorce.
It’s not the material things one owns that defines greatness. Instead, it’s those intangible, immeasurable things we do to touch others that defines one’s true wealth.
I remember when we first moved into our home. My wife and I hadn’t been married very long and we had little ones. It was Christmas Eve and we had maybe a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. The fridge was empty. I think I may have been out of work and we couldn’t afford even one present for the kids. (That tore me up inside.) And on top of that we were almost out of fuel oil to heat the house.
When things looked most dire, there came a knock at the door. I was in one of the other rooms when the girls said, “Daddy! It’s Santa! It’s Santa!” I remember saying something like, “Stop foolin’.” But the kids weren’t fooling. It was someone with the Boone County Jaycees dressed up like Santa Claus. St. Nick had many presents with him and a couple of his helpers had several bags of groceries. We never knew how they found out about our plight, but we did learn they spent their entire budget of one thousand dollars on us.
After they left I sat in the middle of the floor with the kids opening gifts and cried.
The following day I heard someone outside. It was our next door neighbor. He was filling our fuel oil tank. I told him we didn’t have the money for that. He told me not to worry about it because three churches in town said they had been in prayer for needy families and gave him the money to fill our tank.
There’s a certain nothingness in having it all, you know. I can’t remember all the new vehicles I’ve purchased. I can’t remember all the places we’ve been on vacation. I can’t remember all the “things” I’ve had that are no doubt rotting in a landfill. But I do remember that Christmas when someone decided to invest in us. I will never forget those seeds!
Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, has been published bi-monthly since 2009. He’s an author, nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit in Jamestown, Indiana, a non-profit organization aiding the poor. He can be reached at www.builderofthespirit.org or follow him on Twitter @GregAllencolumn.