Something New Under the Sun: Ancient Wisdom for Contemporary Living - 12. THE VIEW FROM THE PENTHOUSE

12. The View From the Penthouse


I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.


Ecclesiastes 2:9


Here is his story, briefly told: At age six, his mother threw his birthday cake off the porch. He played the French Horn at age twelve and by the time he was fif­teen he was playing professionally with some of the top jazz musicians of the day. Eventually, he became the first black musician to break the Hollywood color barrier as a composer of scores. He is perhaps best known as the composer of the score for The Color Purple.

But it hasn’t come easy. Quincy Jones has been mar­ried three times, survived two brain surgeries, and en­dured a complete emotional breakdown. Several years ago he faced surgery for an aneurysm that threatened to kill him. The doctors told him that his chances of recov­ery were 100 to 1. Miraculously, he survived.

Question: “What did you start doing different after your operation?”

Answer: “The first thing I started doing was hugging a lot.

“When you get to be fifty, you start dealing with the countdown, and you can deal with it in a positive way or a negative way. I try to deal with it in a positive way. . . . You try to make this little life to be this great gift.” Then he added these words: “You know that old cliche about your life passing in front of you? Well, it really does.”

I don’t know much else about Quincy Jones, but his philosophy of life makes sense to me. What do you do when the doctors tell you that there is virtually no chance you will survive the operation, and then you open your eyes and you find out you aren’t dead after all? You were the 1 in 100 who made it.

You take a good look at life and then you start hug­ging a lot. It makes you take stock of the passing days and you realize that you cheated the Grim Reaper, but only temporarily. Suddenly life takes on a new meaning. You see it as it really is, as the most precious gift you will ever possess, a gift that must someday be returned to the Giv­er.

If you are smart, you start hugging a lot, because when you get down to it, the relationships you have with the people you love matter more than the awards and the roar of the crowd. That’s just fluff and frosting and win­dow dressing.

The only tragedy is that too often it takes a tragedy to make us wake up and figure out what’s really important in life.


Lord Jesus, thank You for using the hard times of life to rearrange my priorities. Amen.



* Who is the wealthiest person you know? As far as you know, where does this person stand with the Lord?


* What is the major temptation a rich person faces with regard to his own wealth?



Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Colossians 2:2-3; and James 3:13-18.    
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