Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Parable of Rich and Rob

Rich and Rob were homeless. One day while looking through the dumpster behind the 7-Eleven, they discovered an unused lottery ticket. They agreed to split the winnings if there were any and began to scratch away with their dirty fingernails. In fact the prize they won was unlike any they had even dreamed of. “You have won a dream trip for two on the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the seas.” It included details of all the ports of call such as the Cayman Islands, Key West, and Cozumel. But this was no ordinary cruise, they both also would receive a Visa Onyx, a no credit limit card that would allow them to buy any and everything they could ever dream of. The only stipulation was that they had to board with nothing and at the end of the trip leave with only the shirts on their backs. The men were overjoyed and they quickly made their way to the claims office and then to the port to board the ship.

The ship was unlike anything that either of them had ever seen or ever would see, but for two weeks they were no longer homeless, they were kings. Rich and Rob went straight to the shopping deck and purchased new clothes, toiletries, and cologne. The Visa Onyx worked like a charm and they quickly became comfortable in the latest fashion. Then they were off to their cabins for a shower and dinner. Over dinner they laughed over their good fortune and talked about their plans for the two weeks. They read carefully again the rules, and the ports of call. They made plans to not tie one another down, but would undoubtedly meet along the way, and then again at the end to help each other leave with their best “shirt on their back” as the rules stated.

After dinner Rob headed off to one of the many clubs on board ship before hitting the casino. I know it seems foolish for him to gamble as he already had all the money he could need and was not able to take it with him, but this was a once in a lifetime event and soon he got caught up in the excitement and attention that comes with being a high roller. It was easy to forget his life back on the streets and assume this new persona. He was in no unmistakable terms, the life of every party.

Rich on the other hand left dinner very differently. The fact that he only had two weeks to “live” as one would call it gnawed at him to the point that he could not enjoy the thought and get lost in it as Rob seemed to have done. Then as if he had convinced himself to begin his journey he was off. Rather than going to the clubs, Rich went to the all the little shops and stores on board ship buying jewelry and taking it back to his cabin. He seemed to become obsessed with the gold and silver chains and every time that Rich and Rob would pass on board, Rob would be holding an umbrella drink with ladies on each arm, and Rich would be carrying gold chains. Rob became concerned for his friend and would invite him to join the party, but Rich looked on like a man possessed. Rob too had thought of the idea of sleeping on a bed of cash, or diving into a pile of gold like Scrooge McDuck, but thee purpose of money was to buy happiness and he was not going to confuse the two.

Day after day passed and Rob had developed quite the tan. He had gotten his teeth whitened and massages. He spent most days by the pool or on the beaches, and most nights he would stay late in the clubs. Rich on the other had would spend entire days in port going from store to store, carrying as many gold necklaces as he could back to his cabin. Rob was concerned for Rich, but was not about to was a moment on intervention. Why should he give up his vacation if his friend wanted to waste his. One night near the end of the trip as he was going to Club Fever he stopped by Rich’s room to see if his old friend would join him. But Rich seemed stressed and it was fairly evident that Rich had not been out much as there was room service trays for several meals sitting by the door. Rich made some excuse about having something he must do, and Rob knew that Rich really wanted to stay in his room running gold chains through his fingers. For he had seen that Rich’s fingers were raw and bloodied.

The next morning, if you can call it morning it was closer to noon Rob got up and made his way towards the sun deck and perhaps a massage as this had become his routine. While passing the shops it was a bit funny that there was no jewelry to be seen. His friend had virtually stowed it all in his cabin. It was funny to him as he thought of the foolishness of Rob, but it became disturbing as he then caught a glimpse of Rich going from passenger to passenger and offering them money for their personal jewelry. Amazing, simply amazing Rob thought.

The day finally came for them to arrive and Rob although a bit depressed knew that he had gotten everything possible out of that little lottery ticket. He had given it all the gusto, as they say and had no regrets. No regrets except for Rich, who seemed to have wasted his whole trip staying in his cabin with gold necklaces. He went to the closet to pick out the dubious shirt for his back and decided on a Tommy Bahama Shirt that he bought in Kingsport. It seemed a good little reminder of his time on board, although it looked a little out of place with his worn out jeans and dirt tennis shoes. He made a stop by the cabana for one more umbrella drink and waited for the last call to exit the ship.

The horn sounded and men in whites directed him to exit and so his trip came to an end. Standing on the dock he noticed a great commotion on board the ship. People were straining to see what was taking place but Rob knew that it was undoubtedly Rich being dragged from his cave of gold and tossed back on the streets. But, the sounds were not that of anger and fighting, they were gasps of astonishment as person after person saw what Rob was yet not able to see. Then as Rich turned the corner and made his way down the gang plank, he saw it and his heart sunk. Perspective came rushing over him and all of Rich’s odd behavior now made perfect sense. And not just perfect, so perfect that he was quickly ashamed of how stupid he had been for there walking down the plank was Rich in the most gaudy and opulent coat of mail made of pure gold necklaces interwoven together and studded with diamonds. His fingers bloodied with the hours of labor, but his face aglow, Rich walked off the ship with only the shirt on his back.

Rich had read the instructions, he had learned an invaluable truth and it changed everything. Jesus said in Matthew 6:19 & 20 19“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” We are all on similar journeys to Rich and Rob’s. One day we will all be escorted from this life into the next. How will you spend your remaining days? Will you be Rob or will you be Rich?