Alan Smith tells about a wrestler, Yussif, the Terrible Turk, "a 350-pound wrestling champion in Europe a couple of generations ago. After he won the European championship, he sailed to the United States to wrestle the American champion, whose name was Strangler Lewis—a little fellow by comparison who weighed just a shade over 200 pounds.
"Although he wasn't very big, Strangler had a simple plan for defeating his opponents and it had never failed to work. He'd put his massive arm around the neck of his opponent and cut off the oxygen. Many an opponent had passed out in the ring with Strangler Lewis.
"The problem when he fought Yussif the Turk was that Yussif didn't have a neck. His body went from his head to his massive shoulders. Lewis could never get his hold and it wasn't long that the Turk flipped Lewis to the mat and pinned him. After winning the championship, the Turk demanded all five thousand dollars in gold. After he wrapped the championship belt around his vast waist, he stuffed the gold into the belt, and boarded the next ship back to Europe. He was a success! He had captured America's glory and her gold!
"He set sail on the SS Bourgogne. Halfway across the Atlantic, a storm struck and the ship began to sink. Yussif went over the side with his gold still strapped around his body. The added weight was too much for the Turk and he sank like an anvil before they could get him into a lifeboat. He was never seen again."2
"What a fool," we say, but how many of us in reality (especially we in the West) spend so much of our lives investing in the pursuit of possessions and grasp onto them until our dying day?
As Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep in order to gain that which he cannot lose."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, deliver me from the vain pursuit and grasping of material possessions, and help me to realize that my life does not consist in the abundance of things I possess, but in my love of, and in my service to you through serving others. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Luke 12:16-21 (NIV).