Among all the world’s people, who is really rich?

Whom do you think is the richest person in the world? The following story, adapted from William J. Bausch’s “A World of Stories for Preachers and Teachers,” might help you answer that question.

Once upon a time, there was a very wealthy man named Carl. He used to love to ride his horse through his vast estate. It made him very proud to view his vast wealth.

One day, on his ride, the rich man came upon Hans, an old tenant farmer. Hans had just sat down to eat his lunch in the shade of a great oak tree. He had bowed his head in prayer and when he looked up, he saw the rich man. “Oh, excuse me, sir. I did not see you. I was giving thanks to God for my food.”

“Humph,” said the rich man as he noticed the coarse dark bread and cheese that was the old man’s lunch. “If that were all I had to eat, I don’t think that I would feel like giving thanks.”

“Oh,” replied Hans, “It’s quite sufficient. But it is remarkable that you should come by here today because I feel that I must tell you something. You see, just this morning, a strange dream awakened me.”

“What did you dream?” said Carl with an amusing smile.

Hans replied, “Beauty and peace were all around. Yet I could hear a voice from out of the sky say, ‘The richest man in the valley will die tonight.’”

“Dreams,” cried Carl, “Such utter nonsense.” Then he turned and galloped away as Hans watched the rich man and his horse ride off in the distance.

As Carl returned home, he said to himself, “Stubborn old farmer! Nonsense! Ridiculous!” He vowed to forget the incident. Yet he couldn’t forget it. He felt fine. At least he did until Hans described that crazy dream of his.

As the day drew on, he wasn’t sure that he felt well at all. So, when evening came, he called his doctor, who was a personal friend. He asked him to come over right away for he had to speak with him. When the doctor arrived, Carl told him of the old man’s dream, how the richest man in the valley was going to die that very night.

“Sounds like foolishness to me,” replied the doctor. “But for your own peace of mind, let me examine you.” A little later, when the examination was completed, the doctor said with a smile, “Carl, you are as strong and as healthy as that horse you ride. There is no way that you are going to die tonight.”

The doctor was just closing his bag when a messenger arrived out of breath at the manor door. “Doctor, doctor,” he cried, “come quick! Hans, the old farmer, just died in his sleep!”

So who is the richest person in the world? Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:19-21)

To be truly wealthy is to be at peace, knowing that the Good Shepherd tends his sheep and supplies all their needs. “I know mine and mine know me.” To know the Good Shepherd is to trust and love him. May the peace of Christ give you confidence in knowing that we need not fear the wolves of life. Christ’s love is so great that he has laid down his life to protect his sheep from those wolves.

May the peace of Christ fill your heart now and always.