|This official image from "The Beverly Hillbillies" TV|
comedy shows them after finding "bubblin' crude" oil.
Remember the theme song of the classic TV comedy, “The Beverly Hillbillies”? It told how Jed Clampett and his family struck it rich on their homestead: “And up through the ground come a bubblin’ crude. Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.” Wouldn’t it be fun to make a similar discovery in our own back yards?
But the “Hillbillies” ditty didn’t tell the whole story. Finding crude oil is just the beginning of a complex process. Typically, it’s not “bubblin’” out of the ground. There’s a lot involved in discovering where raw petroleum can be located, then extracted from the ground, refined for a wide array of uses, including gasoline and motor oil, and only then taken to market.
My friend, Clarence, and I were talking about this as he shared the idea for a book he’s hoping to write. (I won’t elaborate on that – I’ll wait until it’s published.) But as we talked, it occurred to us that this process – exploration and discovery, extraction, refining, and implementation – applies to many areas of life.
For instance, recently I’ve learned two friends have daughters with great artistic promise. Their talents seem almost prodigious. But knowing they have innate abilities in the arts isn’t enough. They’ll need to draw it out, pursue ways to develop it, and then learn how to utilize it not only for personal enjoyment but also as a potential livelihood.
The same can be said of people with natural leadership abilities, people skilled in various crafts, schoolteachers, accountants, scientists, chefs and so on. What do they have a knack for – and a passion? How can they start “extracting” those abilities that lie within, refining them, and putting them to use for the benefit of many?
The psalmist wrote of God, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16).
I believe this passage speaks of much more than prenatal development. It also refers to how God has uniquely designed each of us, providing unique personalities, talents and traits for use in life. Our challenge is to discover them (the “crude oil” the Lord has instilled in us), draw them out (with the help of others), nurture them for usefulness, and then put them to use.
There’s one other important application for this process of exploration, extraction, refining and implementation. It involves the Bible, the Word of God.
As a teen I read through the Scriptures, cover to cover, as a personal project. Just so I could say, “I’ve read the Bible.” But during that endeavor, I didn’t discover anything. I didn’t extract anything. I certainly didn’t refine, or implement anything I read. I simply read the 66 books to say that I had.
Only years later, desiring to know God better and understand what being a follower of Jesus Christ means, did I begin the digging and learning, understanding and applying.
|The Navigators' "Hand Illustration"|
What are we to do with God’s truth after it’s been discovered? We’re to extract and dig into it deeply: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-1-2).
Next comes the “refining” of wisdom and understanding of what God has entrusted to us. Paul wrote to his protégé, Timothy: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Finally, the Scriptures instruct us, don’t just hold onto God’s truth and ponder it. Use it, as Paul admonished followers of Christ in the ancient city of Philippi: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9).