Daily Devotional

For Apr 17, 2014 ← Return

Humble Ambitions

AN AMAZING FACT:  Howard Hughes was born in Humble, Texas, on Christmas Eve, 1905. But, as a young man, his ambitions were anything but humble. He wanted to be a top film producer, a top aviator, and the richest man alive—and he managed all three! Starting in his early 20s, he produced several award-winning films and dated a string of Hollywood stars. As an aviator, he set several speed records in planes that he helped design. He also helped design and build the world’s largest flying boat, the HL-4 Hercules, which was nicknamed the “Spruce Goose” (though it was actually built of birch). Hughes also became incredibly wealthy. At various points in his life, he owned a tool company, a motion picture studio, a medical research institute, gambling casinos, vast amounts of real estate and hotels in Las Vegas, several airlines, and an aircraft company.

Hughes was living life in the fast lane until 1946; while test flying a prototype, he crashed and nearly died. While recuperating, Howard Hughes became dependent on pain relievers. Over time, his behavior became increasingly more erratic. He became an eccentric recluse: for one four-month stretch he stayed in the darkened room of a screening studio, eating nothing but chocolate bars, chicken, and milk, and obsessively watching movies.

By 1966, at the age of 60, he was the world’s wealthiest man, but he lived in constant fear of contagious disease. His employees had to wash their hands frequently and wear white gloves. He would use tissues to pick up items, and burned his clothing, fearing he’d had some contact with germs. Towards the end of his life, he was injecting codeine daily. His hygiene rapidly declined: he rarely bathed or brushed his teeth and allowed his nails to grow grotesquely long. His once-strapping 6-foot-4-inch frame shrank to barely 90 pounds. While flying to a hospital in Houston in 1976, he died of kidney failure. The FBI insisted on taking fingerprints to confirm that this pitiful shell of a man was indeed the legendary Howard Hughes.

In Matthew, Jesus asks what a man really wins if he gains the entire world but loses his soul. Hughes’ life is a sad reminder that the only true way to live is to die to self and humbly follow Christ.

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
- Matthew 16:26

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