The Gambler

July 18, 2020

You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em...

                                                                                                 –Kenny Rogers

I’ve done really well in the stock market over the years--that is, I’ve stayed miles away from it, and as a result I have lost zero dollars. Winner! Even if I had the disposable income, I have enough self-awareness to recognize what a disaster any foray into buying and selling would be for me. If I had to watch the ups and downs of a particular stock it would absolutely drive me up the wall—because I would watch, obsessively, throughout every day.

 Growing up, there was only one Wall Street investor in the family. For years, my Great Aunt Rose made a huge deal out of her vast “holdings” in AT&T, and often hinted that we would be the recipients of a fortune upon her demise. Turns out, there weren’t that many shares after all, and what there were, disappeared as if by magic once my father, her only heir, cashed them in.

 The phrase “I’ll take my chances” has never passed my lips, because I emphatically WON’T. I remember when we were young marrieds living in Mt. Airy, and it was suggested we buy our first house in downtown Camden NJ, because it was “sure” to explode in value. Still waiting for the big Camden boom, and glad we didn’t speculate. But I am sorry we didn’t attempt to buy even a tiny cottage at the Delaware shore in the 1980s, because those property values DID skyrocket, and have been out of our reach for a long time.

 Right now we are holding onto our Europe plane tickets. Our trip was rescheduled from April to early September, and of course as of now it isn’t happening. But in order to get a refund of the ticket price, we have to wait for the airline to cancel the flight, and that's a bit of a gamble. Needless to say, as Americans we are understandably personae non grata to the countries who have gotten COVID under control, so I’m optimistic that we’ll get our money back. But it’s really stressing me out to wait.

 According to philosopher Blaise Pascal’s famous “wager,” if we choose to believe in God, and God doesn’t exist, we haven’t lost anything. However, if we choose not to believe, and there IS a God, we stand to lose everything—so the wise person bets on God’s existence. While intellectually I get this reasoning, it doesn’t square with my concept of God at all. There are many wonderful people who, for one reason or another, do not or cannot believe in God. Does God send them tumbling down to Hell? Or does God never, ever give up on God’s beloved children?

 I rest in the confidence that I have a heavenly home, and so do my brothers and sisters who struggle with faith, in an eternity big enough for all of us.

 I’m no gambler, but I consider that a pretty safe bet.


    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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