A Crumbling Castle and a Wasted Life

A Crumbling Castle and a Wasted Life

"And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it"—Matt. 7:27

On heart Island, one of the thousand islands in the Saint Lawrence River, in sight of the New York state mainland is a huge castle now tumbling into a state of decay.

It looks for all the world like a medieval castle on the Rhine, for that's what it was built to resemble. Let's go back into the history of this strange pile of stone looking so odd there in the St. Lawrence River.

George C. Boldt came to America from Germany as a small boy. He rose to be a millionaire many times over and once owned the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.

He loved his wife so much that he decided to erect a castle and showplace that would stand as a permanent monument to her. To honor her properly, he would build a castle! And a castle like the ones on the Rhine River in Germany that he had admired as a boy.

Nothing but the best would go into this castle. He hired the best architects and artists. Hand-carved marble fireplaces made in Italy were ordered. From the Old World came mosaics, carvings, tapestries, and sculpture. The best of workmen, mural painters, landscape gardeners, masons, and carpenters came from all over the world. Money was poured out without stun to honor Mrs. Boldt.

When the castle was nearly finished, Mrs. Boldt died. The whole reason for the castle was gone. Mr. Boldt ordered the work stopped. Not another nail was driven or stone laid.

Today visitors can see cut stones lying uncrated; expensive carved woods still in their packing cases lean against the walls, with careless passers-by free to write their names on them in lipstick or crayon. Certain parts of the castle are so deteriorated that it's too dangerous to enter. Before many years go by, the building will have to be closed to the public because of the danger, and Boldt Castle will be viewed only from the outside and by those passing by in their boats on the St. Lawrence River.

What a great tribute to one man's wife! But what an awful waste!

For the same amount of money George C. Boldt could have built and equipped a full-scale college, complete with dormitories, library, dining ball, and chapel. Or he could have erected a hospital. Or set up a rotating loan fund to help needy students attend college. And he could have named these things after his wife. She would live forever in the hearts of the public. Wouldn't Boldt College be more to her credit than Boldt Castle?

Now few of us have millions of dollars to squander. But we do have treasures more precious.

We have our own lives, given to us by God—with our bodies, brains, personalities, abilities, aim, dreams, and ambitions. What will we do with them—build foolish life castles for succeeding generations to disrespect and make fun of or build lives that will be honored and useful?

Jesus had three great temptations to use his life foolishly and selfishly. He rejected all three. Today he calls to us and challenges us to use the great treasure of our life for him and God. How will you spend your millions?

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