This summer our family made a visit to the Windy City, Chicago. Eight of us took in as much as we could in a couple of days. While there, we went to see a show called Million Dollar Quartet, a dramatic recreation of an impromptu jam session with four legendary pioneers of rock 'n roll - Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley. On a December evening in 1956 those four legends all found themselves at Sun Records Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. Sam Phillips, owner of Sun Records, had the wherewithal to record the session which ranged from Gospel harmonies to all-out rock 'n roll.
The show chronicled that night including the conversations that took place between all the characters. The actor that played Sam Phillips was a narrator of sorts providing some monologue that gave historical perspective on the artists and the time period. At times everyone on the stage would freeze while Phillips provided the commentary. One of those freeze frames had all four musicians gathered around the piano. With the lights dimmed and only a spotlight on Phillips, he made an insightful comment that went something like this:
"All four of these men went on to have remarkable and successful music careers. I only wish they could have enjoyed as much success in their personal lives."
That struck me right between the eyes. You would think that these men who were adored by thousands and rich beyond most our imaginations would have lived the lives that all of us dream of. A few Google searches and Wikipedia articles confirmed that these four men had more than their share of personal struggles. Money, fame, and success may not be all they're cracked up to be!
We so often equate financial or professional success with happiness. We think if we only had a little more of this or that, then our lives would be complete. Just a little more and that elusive joy would follow right along. We are so easily deceived into thinking that more stuff means more joy.
This may have been why Jesus said radical things like, "Seek first the Kingdom of heaven and all these things will be added to you." It may be why Jesus issued sobering warnings like, "It's hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven." Jesus may have been on to something when he told us that purpose, joy, and satisfaction are not found in the stuff of the world but in a relationship with God! Jesus sees it as a tragedy when we worship the creation and ignore the Creator!
The Bible is replete with warnings about the deceit of riches and Million Dollar Quartet confirmed them all. It's not that money is wrong. What's wrong is what we expect money can do for us. It is no replacement for the thrill of knowing God and the joy of loving others!
That production certainly entertained me, but it also reminded me that life is not so much a matter of what we accumulate. Success is living a life in recognition of the God who made me and loves me. Joy is found in loving that God and loving the people around me.
After the show, the eight of us walked the streets of Chicago back to our hotel. It was a beautiful evening in August and, although that night will never be chronicled on stage, as I looked around at those walking with me and the love we have for each other I must admit, I felt like a million bucks!