Circumstances surrounding his friend’s good fortune taught Leo what it really means to be rich.
“I am going to be rich!” said Aaron triumphantly to his friend who was riding on the front of his bike.
“What are you talkin’ about? When? Maybe when you’re fifty, huh?” responded Leo over his shoulder.
Wheeling his bike into Leo’s driveway, Aaron stopped to let his passenger hop off. “Nope, not when I’m old. Soon, real soon. I’m gonna get the nicest bike you ever saw, and I’m gonna get my own phone, and a…”
“Are you dreaming?” Leo interrupted. “Where are you going to get that kind of money?”
“My Dad’s uncle died and left him a huge pile of money. He owned half the town where he lived. I’m tellin’ ya, we’re going to be on easy street!”
By this time Leo’s eyes were wide with amazement. As they walked into the house, Leo spoke slowly, “If I didn’t know you so well I’d think you were just pulling my leg. Are you still going to be my best friend, I mean after you’re rich and all?”
“Sure,” Aaron smiled, “I might even buy you a bike!”
Leo brightened up somewhat at that statement and the two busied themselves with a Lego kit while talking animatedly about Aaron’s good fortune. Later on, after Aaron had left, Leo sat down in the living room where his parents were both reading.
“Dad, do you think we’ll ever be rich?” His father laid down his paper and responded quizzically, “What’s on your mind, Leo?”
“Well, do you or Mom have any rich old relatives? Because my friend Aaron is gonna be swimming in money from his rich uncle pretty soon, and it just doesn’t seem fair.”
“Oh, that’s right. I just read the other day that old Andrew Thomas down in Lincoln died. He would be Aaron’s great uncle. Why, he was known as Mr. Franklin County since he owned the better part of that area.”
“Yeah, and I guess he left it all to Aaron’s dad,” said Leo glumly.
With a serious look, Leo’s father put his hand on Leo’s shoulder. “Son, I know it’s easy to desire the situation that your friend has found himself in. But tell me, do we have something better than all the money in the world here in this house or not?”
“You mean God? I guess so. But sometimes I think you could have a lot of money and still be just as happy as we are.”
His mother asked, “Do you really think so, Son?”
“I don’t know why not. I mean as long as you’re happy, you’re happy, right?” With that he left the room to answer the phone in the kitchen. Soon he ran excitedly back to the living room.
“Mom, Dad, may I go to Lincoln with Aaron? His dad said it would be all right. We’d leave Friday afternoon and be home the next night.”
Late Friday afternoon, in Lincoln, a kind-looking elderly lady answered the biggest door in the biggest house Leo ever remembered seeing. Aaron whispered that she was the maid who had been there for over forty years. She showed them their rooms, and after Aaron’s parents had left to take care of some business, the two boys went down into the huge dining room to eat dinner. The maid, Miss Brown, noticed Leo’s awestruck look.
“Quite a place, isn’t it, young man?”
“Yah! I’d give anything to live in a place like this!”
“Not if you knew what I know, you wouldn’t,” Miss Brown responded with a mysterious look. Leo wondered what she meant, but wasn’t sure if he should ask. Later when Miss Brown brought them some spice cake in the recreation room, he decided to find out more.
“Mr. Thomas must have been a very happy man, huh, Miss Brown?”
She sat down on the couch near them and spoke in a very quiet voice. “Boys, a lot of people wished they could have been Andrew Thomas. But I worked for him for forty-three years, and I never once wished that.”
Aaron and Leo looked on with amazement as she continued.
“Mr. Thomas had what most people only spend their lives dreaming about having. But he didn’t have the only thing in life worth possessing—the satisfaction of knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ is in your heart. Oh, he could put on a show in front of everybody all right, but I’m probably one of the very few who ever knew the truth. That man longed after the satisfaction of riches, but found only riches without satisfaction. I have longed after God, and He has blessed me beyond measure. I was the only one there when Mr. Thomas died. You know what he said right before he died? He said, ‘I would gladly crawl on my hands and knees around this whole world and give everything I own to have the peace that you have.’ Then he was gone. I may not have much in this world, but I have joy in my heart. Even though I have to leave this house now, I know that I have a mansion waiting for me in Heaven that will make this one seem like just so many sticks and stones.”
Leo wasn’t sure what Aaron was thinking, but as Miss Brown walked out of the room he knew he would never forget the rich lady who lived in the poor man’s house.