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 Scriptures clearly address these crucial steps: To believers in the city of Colossae, the apostle Paul wrote of discovery: “…the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27).
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).
Years ago, The Navigators, a ministry of evangelism and discipleship, developed “the Hand Illustration.” It depicts five steps in mastering and utilizing biblical truth: Hear, read, study, memorize, meditate. This visual is helpful because if we’re diligent to implement each, then we can’t help but do what the apostle told the Philippians. To offer a paraphrase, he was saying, “Okay, you know it. Now do what it says!” The Bible’s not intended to remain just “bubblin’ crude.”
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also writes two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at email@example.com.