The place: Spindletop, Texas.
The time: 1892
A group of five investors formed the Gladys City Oil Company. Sulphur springs in the area gave them great hope that black gold lay beneath the surface, especially since gas seepages in the area would ignite if lit.
Soon the area was dotted with holes–holes that produced nothing. Two investors pulled out.
A geologist was brought in. More investors were convinced to take the risk.
Nine long, unproductive years went by, and still no oil. That’s 3,285 days of discouragement, disappointment, and exhausting labor. Yet those men would not give up.
Finally, on January 10, 1901, their long-held dreams were realized. At the depth of 1,139 feet, the company struck oil. And it wasn’t just a gurgling flow. The discovery at Spindletop gave new meaning to the term, “gusher.” The oil shot over one hundred feet into the air, spewing enough to fill 100,000 barrels a day. It took nine days to get the well under control. No oil field in the world, up to that time, had been so productive.
I wonder what those men said to each other each morning, over those 3,000-plus days of working, learning, waiting, and wondering? Surely their conversations included some positive uplift, or they would have quit. Perhaps they made such comments as:
- “If we don’t find oil, at least we can say we gave the effort everything we’ve got. If we quit before all possibilities are tried? That‘s failure.”
- “All the signs indicate there is oil. We can‘t quit!
- “Today might be the day!”
* * * * * * * * * *
Just as oil is sometimes discovered by accident, so God’s blessings fall into our laps as glorious surprises. Other times, God chooses to postpone a blessing while we dig our way through learning, working, waiting, and wondering–like the oil men of Spindletop, Texas.
How do we press on when circumstances look bleak, when common sense tells us to quit?
1. Pray! The key to knowing when to persevere and when to change direction is to spend time with God. Ask him to make clear what the next step is. Most likely he will not reveal the whole plan at once. He rarely works that way, because it eliminates the faith factor. Our moment-by-moment trust in him is too crucial to the abundant living he desires for us.
2. Believe! Dozens of promises in scripture probably apply to your situation and mine. We can recite those promises–not as demands (“God, you said this, so I’m expecting you to do it.”) but as faith-builders. (“God, you said this, and I know with you all things are possible.”)
3. Fight! Fight against discouragement with plenty of encouragement. God is very creative in the ways he brings hope to our spirits. Often it’s through Bible reading and other Christian material. We must keep reading! Sometimes it’s in a sermon or a song. We must keep listening!
A friend or even a stranger can speak uplifting words that resonate in our hearts. Sometimes it’s as if God is speaking directly. One sign for me, that someone is speaking for God? Goosebumps! I can almost feel his light touch on my arm and his voice saying, “Pay attention to this, Nancy.”
Our God is a well of unending supply. Whatever we need in this life, including wisdom, direction, and perseverance toward a goal, he will provide. In fact, he will do whatever it takes for his praying, believing, fighting children to discover the oil of gladness, instead of mourning (over failure), a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
That’s one way our loving, supportive Heavenly Father displays his splendor (Isaiah 61:3).
(Photo credit: www.en.wikipedia.org.)