I am a sucker for sweepstakes. I know, "sucker" is the operative word. But the lure of the prize -- a tricked-out refrigerator, 100,000 airline miles, or $5000 at J. Peterman, to name recent ones -- leads me to spend (waste) a minute filling out entry forms. The chance that this time, I might get lucky compels me to continue adding my name to the thousands of other hopefuls. Of course, the odds are against us -- only one person will win. But the possibility of getting something for nothing compels us.
For me, at least, what makes sweepstakes irresistable is that they are free -- raffles, for example, don't tempt me. And how often do we get things for free -- things that are worth receiving? My father's most frequent words of wisdom, at least while I was growing up, were "There's no such thing as a free lunch." We usually value most the things we work hard for, whether it's a car or a degree. And most valuable things require much of us, such as our marriages or children. It is satisfying to work hard at a job or relationship and see the fruit of that hard work. But sometimes, I just want to get lucky, to get something for nothing.
My drive to accomplish something -- to be competent and successful -- usually dominates; I also, though, want sometimes to be celebrated just for being me. Maybe that desire is what makes our birthdays so special (if they are remembered!). For me, the real reason that sweepstakes are irresistable isn't so much the particular prize but the hope of being singled out for nothing I've had to work for.
When I fill out a sweepstakes form, I am pretty sure I'm just wasting my time. But it does remind me to thank God, who gave his Son Jesus to die for me to give me a new life -- not because of anything I've done, but just because he loves me. And that is a prize available to anyone who will receive it.