by Charles R. Swindoll
Mrs. Bertha Adams, 71 years old, died alone in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Easter Sunday. The coroner's report read: "Cause of death . . . malnutrition." She had wasted away to fifty pounds.
When the state authorities made their preliminary investigation of Mrs. Adams' home, they found a veritable "pigpen . . . the biggest mess you can imagine." The woman had begged food from neighbors' back doors and gotten what clothing she had from the Salvation Army. From all outward appearances she was a penniless recluse. But such was not the case.
Amid the jumble of her unclean, disheveled belongings, the officials found two keys to safe-deposit boxes at two different local banks. In the first box were over 700 AT&T stock certificates, plus hundreds of other valuable certificates, bonds, and solid financial securities, not to mention a stack of cash amounting to nearly $200,000. The second box contained $600,000. Adding the net worth of both boxes, they found well over a million dollars.
Charles Osgood, reporting the story on CBS radio, announced that the estate would probably go to a distant niece and nephew, neither of whom dreamed their aunt had a thin dime to her name.
Don't you wonder about this woman? Why, oh, why would anybody salt away all that bread in two tiny boxes, month after month, year after year, and refuse to spend even enough for food to stay alive?
Fact is, Bertha Adams wasn't saving her money; she was worshiping it . . . hoarding it . . . gaining a twisted satisfaction out of watching the stacks grow higher as she shuffled along the streets wearing the garb of a beggar.
I'm a firm believer in saving, investing, intelligent spending, and wise money management. But I have trouble finding one word of scriptural support for being a tightwad! Never have I seen one who could dream broad dreams or see vast visions of what God can do in spite of man's limitations.
Give me a handful of "greathearts" . . . generous, openhanded, visionary, spiritually minded givers . . . magnanimous giants with God who get excited about abandoning themselves to Him. The name of the game is not CAUTION—it's still VISION, isn't it? Seems like I read somewhere that those without it perish.
And speaking of that, when they buried Bertha Adams, she didn't take a penny with her.
Some folks serve the almighty dollar far more faithfully than the Almighty God. They get greater delight out of balancing the budget than watching the Lord multiply the loaves and fishes.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.