Recently, I read a fascinating synopsis of the life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (By John Kincaid in Changing Lives Ministries). It was so good and so interesting that I had to do further research.
Here’s what I found.
You need to know this is a different Rockefeller then you may assume. His son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr,, was quite a successful man in his own right. He, in turn, had five sons who were all famous in American life, including Nelson who served as governor of New York and ran for president of the United States.
John D. Rockefeller Sr. was born in 1839 and became a millionaire at age 33. This was in the day (the 1870s) when $1 million was an astounding amount of money. By age 43 he owned and ran the largest company in the world, the Standard Oil Company. He controlled 90% of the oil in the United States.
By age 53, John D. Rockefeller was a billionaire, the only one in the world.
Someone computed what $1 billion in the 1890s would be worth in today’s dollars. They came up with the astronomical sum of $336 billion, making John D. Rockefeller the richest man (in financial terms) that has ever lived.
All of this happened before he was 53 years old.
But at age 53 he ate crackers because of a stomach ailment and couldn’t sleep at night. He had the best doctors in the world. They told him that he would not live to be 54 years old.
Since he knew he couldn’t take his money with him, he started giving it away. He did wonderful things with his money. He helped churches and needy people.He began the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University, as well as a university in the Philippines. He began the Rockefeller Foundation, dedicated to medical research. The Rockefeller Foundation was instrumental in the discovery of penicillin, the most significant medical discovery of all time, and the eradication of hookworm and yellow fever.
At that point in his life, Rockefeller began to change. He became able to eat normal food. He started sleeping.
He also made a profession of faith and was baptized in a Northern Baptist Church. He attended church every Sunday, even teaching a Sunday school class until he died. After having been told he would never see his 54th birthday, John D. Rockefeller lived to be 97 years old.
Obviously, I can’t get into the mind of John D. Rockefeller, but his remarkable change in health coincided with his remarkable change of heart and life. Isn’t it amazing what happens when we begin to act as we were created to act? Maybe it’s time we started believing Scripture and understanding that God created us for a purpose, that when we seek to accomplish his purpose, he blesses our lives. When we die to self and seek to put God first in our lives, we experience His blessing as well.
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:1-4).
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