The Choice

It was a no-brainer, one of those rare opportunities with no downsides. In the pioneer days, Andy had moved west to Kansas. He was very successful, because he had a knack for business and got along well with people. When neighbors of his ran into trouble, Andy would help and when they gave up and  moved further west, he bought their farms for a song and so kept expanding. He knew when to buy and when to sell, and it wasn’t long before he was the largest rancher for miles around. He didn’t have a son, though, and so it was only natural that Lou, his orphaned nephew, would be groomed to take over the ranch some day.

One day, these plans were interrupted. Bert died unexpectedly, and his widow wanted to return to her family back east. Bert was a distant neighbor, more of a family friend, really. He owed Andy a small amount from one of the times he helped them out, and Bert’s widow offered to deed him the ranch as a settlement. At first, Andy protested. He didn’t want to take advantage of her misery, and offered to pay full price for the larger than normal ranch. She wouldn’t hear anything of it, though, because she was from a well to do family in Boston and, before she went back, she wanted to do this in appreciation for Andy always being there for them. Andy acquiesced and took over the ranch, which happened to come with a several hundred head of cattle Bert had bought just a few months before his death. Bert’s ranch, you see, was only a day’s cattle drive from the new railroad depot in Dodge City.

Because Bert’s ranch was quite a distance from Andy’s holdings, Andy and Lou spent several days on the road each month, traveling back and forth between their properties. After a particularly nasty winter storm, it became evident that their interests were just too spread out to manage as one. Over dinner one night, Andy told Lou he was going to split his holdings in two, and Lou could choose whether he wanted the original homestead or Bert’s ranch, which had also grown in the meantime.

That, as we said at the outset, was a no-brainer for Lou. The railroad was the key to progress, Dodge City was a boom town, and the sky was the limit for someone with property near the depot. Many of the Texas cowboys were content to sell their cattle at the rail head, rather than go through the hassle of shipping them on the railroad, with drovers to take care of them until they reached the market in Chicago. Lou saw the potential, and that is why he chose the ranch closest to Dodge City.

It wasn’t long before Lou bought a town home and split time between his ranch and the bustling, boisterous city of Dodge. There was much more happening in the city than on the ranch, and Lou eventually settled in Dodge and started several businesses, catering to the cattle drovers and cowboys with, as Lou called it, the three B’s: board, booze and beauties. It wasn’t long before he was one of the richest people in Dodge and his house one of the biggest. He even served on the city council and did a stint as mayor.

Andy, meanwhile, continued to prosper slowly and steadily on his peaceful ranch further north, content with the slower pace of life which brought with it a growing relationship with the Lord.

Except for the date and location, that is the story of Abraham and Lot. Lot thought Sodom was the no-brainer choice. The land there was greener, and the opportunities for success much greater. He pitched his tent outside of Sodom, but eventually got seduced into it and we read that he eventually lived inside the city and was one of their leaders. What drew him to Sodom wasn’t the wickedness; what drew him was the success and the wealth, and the accolades and esteem those things brought. (Wickedness just happens to gravitate to where money is.) Lot wasn’t poor when he split from Abraham, but here’s the thing about wealth: when is enough enough?

The moment “more” enters our vocabulary, it automatically means enough is never enough. Abraham was content with the lesser option, because he had the Lord. Lot, on the other hand, saw “more” and we know the end to which that brought him.

It’s important to note that God still considered Lot righteous enough to send a SWAT team to rescue him. But Lot ended up with nothing. Abraham, who valued peace and the Lord more than stuff, ended up with everything.

Jesus said if we seek first the kingdom of God, the things we then don’t care about get added. The “don’t care about” part, that’s the part that gives us trouble. The moment we care about it, we care about it.

How serious are we about pressing into Jesus and His kingdom? The answer always shows in what we don’t care about any more.

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