Meeting God at the Movies

During my senior year of college, I went into the insurance business part-time. After graduating, I went full-time. For some reason it clicked. I won numerous sales awards and started making a lot of money. Before long, making money became my greatest priority. So, in order to earn even more income, I worked day and night, seven days a week. And it worked. I made an enormous amount of money. But in the process I neglected my family, my health, and my soul. Late one night I came home from another long day of work. My wife and young son were both asleep. I rarely saw them in those days; I was too busy making money. Too wired up to sleep, I turned on the TV and watched the late-night classic movie. That night’s selection was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof staring Paul Newman, Burl Ives, and Elizabeth Taylor, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tennessee Williams.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof tells the story of an old man and his family. The man was rich and powerful; everyone called him “Big Daddy.” He had all the things money could buy: a big southern mansion, twenty-eight thousand acres of fertile farmland, and millions of dollars in stocks and bonds. Big Daddy had it all. He also had an alcoholic son, colon cancer, and the certainty of death in the near future. The end of the movie finds Big Daddy and his son in the basement of his mansion. For one brief moment Big Daddy’s masks of power, wealth, and success are stripped away. We realize he’s not wealthy at all. He had a shallow relationship with his wife. He was estranged from his son. And his daughter’s only concern was getting the lion’s share of Big Daddy’s estate. He had no significant relationships; he didn’t even know the names of his servants. He knew no love, no purpose in life, no faith, no meaning. He was absolutely bankrupt. What did Big Daddy have? A basement full of expensive European antiques.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof served as a powerful epiphany for me. I realized that if I continued on my present course I would end up just like Big Daddy, rich in material things but bankrupt in things that really matter. God used that movie, along with several other experiences to say, “You are chasing after the wrong dream. Money is not what matters most.”