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The man who found his life by almost losing it

Posted: August 26, 2011 - 10:30am

John D. Rockefeller, the wealthiest man of his time, pursued money with a passion. By the time he was thirty-three, he had made his first million. At forty-three, he controlled the largest business on earth. At fifty-three, he was the only known billionaire in the world.

In spite of having all this money, however, he was unhappy because his money had him. Once Rockefeller shipped $40,000 worth of grain across Lake Erie without insurance because he thought the $150 premium was too high. That night a vicious storm raged over the lake, endangering his investment. This poor rich man was so concerned about his load of grain that when his partner, George Gardner, arrived at their office in the morning, he found John D. anxiously pacing the floor.

Immediately, Gardner went out to buy insurance on the jeopardized cargo, if possible, while Rockefeller continued his pacing and fretting. Though successful in getting the grain insured, when Gardner returned to the office he found his partner in an even worse state of mind. In his absence, a telegram had arrived announcing the ship had made its destination safely. Rockefeller was now so upset over having wasted the money on the insurance premium he had to go home and spend the day in bed.

At the age of fifty-three and a billionaire, Rockefeller was described by writer Ida Tarbell as the oldest man that I have ever seen. His health was so poor that he existed on crackers and milk. His hair, including his eyebrows and eyelashes, had all fallen out.

Most thought he would not live another year. Fortunately, Rockefeller recognized the destructive power money exercised over him in time to save his life.

Seeing his only hope of freedom as a reversal of his past, this wealthy man began giving away dollars; millions of them. This change from getting to giving worked a miracle in John D. Rockefeller’s life. His inner struggles began to subside.

In trading his self-seeking attitude for one of service to others, Rockefeller became healthy and happy. By losing his life, he found it. The man who was thought to be near the end of his life at fifty three lived to the ripe old age of ninety-eight and finally died having accomplished more by giving than would have been possible had he chosen to keep his wealth to himself.

Most of us have trouble identifying with the money blues of a wealthy man like John D. Rockefeller. We chuckle at the thought of a millionaire pacing the floor and worrying about a cargo of grain when an insurance premium smaller than those we pay on our automobiles would have taken care of the risk. But we understand the anxieties and pressures money problems can create. We know about the knotting up within that can come when bills are overdue and we don’t know how to pay them.
Here are a few suggestions for untying those knots:

Remember all wealth is owned by our Heavenly Father. He loves you and your financial crisis has not taken Him by surprise. While you don’t have Rockefeller’s millions, you are probably able to give something to someone whose need is greater than your own and your selfless act of faith will change your cycle of despair.

Roger Campbell is a writer who was a pastor for 22 years.

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