There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand.
– Ecclesiastes 5:13-15
As I read these verses the other night, a story took shape in my mind. I pictured a man who had determined that he was going to be a good provider for his family. A man determined to give his children all of the best things in life. So, the man did the honorable thing – he worked.
I pictured this man getting up hours before the sun came up in the morning, going to work at a job that asked much of him, and he was willing to give. He was doing it for his family. At the end of that work day he went to a second job and worked until late in the evening, coming home to collapse into his bed. He was tired, but this was for his family.
As time went on, the work week spread over into the weekend. He missed vacations, birthday parties, and music recitals, but this too was for his family. The kids were growing, but he had a plan, and even though he hurt so badly every time he saw his family look at him sadly after he told them he could not join them, it was for his family.
Over the years, the money he earned grew, and it grew significantly. His plan was beginning to come together. He could see the end of the journey had had begun all those years ago. He was almost there. Then it happened… The big opportunity arrived.
A friend came to him with an investment opportunity that was guaranteed to double his money, and that was a significant amount. If this went as planned, he could actually quit working and spend the rest of his life just living off interest and leaving a very comfortable life for his kids when he finally passed away as an old man. He went all in.
Things looked good for awhile, the business was slow to start, but there was still hope. Then he started feeling ill. A trip to the doctor revealed the worst news, and he was given two months.
Deciding he would spend his remaining time giving his family their every desire, he went to cash out on his investment. Tragically, he found out that there was nothing left. His partner had taken his money and invested in in several other businesses, and it was gone. He was left with nothing, and eight weeks later, he was gone.
At the funeral, his 16 year old son stood up to speak of his father. He approached to platform, and stopped to look at his father lying there in the casket. After a few moments, he stepped to the podium and began to speak.
“I wish I could tell you that I know the man lying here today. I wish I could tell you of all the fun times we had. I wish I could tell you about vacations, camping trips, birthday parties, and tickle fights on the living room rug. I wish I could tell you about his favorite song, his favorite food, or about his favorite book, movie, or his first car.”
“I wish I could tell you all of those things and more. I wish I could tell you how much he loved us. Tell you about the hugs, the laughter, the smiles, and the warmth of a life with him. There are so many things I wish I could tell you about this man, but there is a problem. I don’t know him well enough to tell you these things.”
“As I grew up, Mom always told us how much he loved us. She knew his plan to make enough to retire before I graduated high school so he could do all sorts of stuff with me and the rest of my family. She told me all about the money he was saving so I would have a good start. She told me how it was his way of showing me he loved me.”
“So, now I stand here beside the casket of a man I barely knew. Friends and family have helped us put this funeral together because we didn’t have enough money to do it on our own. My college dreams are starting to fade away as I look at my younger siblings that are going to need me to step up and help support them. The plan he had for me is gone.”
“So, what do I have to say today? Why did I get up here? Was it to make you all feel sorry for me? No. I wanted to point out a tragedy that took place in the life of my father. Here was a man with the noblest of intentions. He wanted to give us so much, but in the end, he left this world unable to do that. He had two dreams. He wanted to spend time with us and give us an inheritance.”
“I wish I could feel anger about this, but in the end, I feel pity. He came into this world with nothing, he worked to build wealth at the cost of knowing those he loved, and he left this world with nothing. All I can say that he really left me is a desire to do things better.”
Maybe these verses mean something a little different. Maybe I am off my rocker and had a sandwich that was just a little too spicy that day. I’m not sure what put that little story in my head, but I wanted to share it.
I’m glad that I had a Dad that was there for me. He worked long days, shift work, and sometimes weekends to make the money that was needed to keep us going, but he was there for us too. He showed me the value of being there for your kids, and I hope I am doing a good job being there for my kids too.
There have been opportunities for me to take jobs that might have been great financial decisions, but I have always had this thought in my head that the money only does so much for you if you can’t be with the ones that you love.
God speaks so much about money in His Word, and I’m pretty sure it is because He knew we would have such a problem with it. Part of Relentless Growth is looking at the wisdom of the Bible as it speaks to our financial picture, our family responsibilities, and the fact that the money belongs to God anyway. We are just stewards.
So, at the end of the day, all you dads out there, keep working. Your children need to see your drive and your determination to provide for the family. It is a character trait they will thank you for, but be there for them too. They need both. It is sad when they don’t have one or the other, but it is grievous when they get neither.
Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong