For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
During the years of the Depression, Ira Yates was no different than the other ranchers and farmers of west Texas.
Unable to scrape out a living, he was in danger of losing his home. Yates spent his days watching his sheep, but both days and nights were occupied with worries about what was going to happen to him and his family. To be honest, Yates scanned the horizon for hope, but he didn't find it.
That's because Yates' relief didn't come from the horizon. It came from underneath his feet.
The change in Yates' fortune began when an exploratory crew from an oil company told him there might be oil on his property. They dug a test well. They were down just a shade over 1,100 feet when they struck oil. I mean they struck oil.
The first well on Yates' place produced 80,000 barrels a day. Other wells soon were producing more than twice that amount. That's a lot of oil; that's a lot of cash. And Yates owned it all. He'd gone from rags to riches in less than 24 hours. One day he was a pauper and later that day he was well on his way to being as rich as a prince.
Now the most interesting thing about this story is that Yates hadn't done a thing to change his condition. He didn't have the ability to identify the potential riches under his feet; he didn't have the knowledge to dig a well; he didn't know how to trap the oil or take it to market. The only thing he had done in the whole process is not say, "No!" when the oilmen came and asked for permission to try and make him rich.
I like Yates' story. I like it because it is the story of every saved Christian.
Once upon a time, like Yates, we were deep in the debt of sin. That debt kept rising, and we were unable to make things right. Sure, we could worry, but that didn't put a penny into the "paid-off" column. Then, one day the Holy Spirit came knocking at the door of our hearts. He told us of our Savior and the riches that had been won for us by Jesus through His perfect life, His sacrificial death, and His glorious resurrection.
Then, having told us of the Savior, the Holy Spirit put faith into our hearts. In an instant the debt of our sins was erased, and we were saved. We hadn't done a thing. Or, if you prefer, the only thing we had done was not say, "No!" when the Holy Spirit came calling.
Yes, our story, because of God's grace, is a wonderful one, and it could be the story of everyone in this world. Sadly, there are still people who are still saying, "No!" to the salvation God so freely offers them. They say, "No!" and because they do, they remain in their spiritual poverty.
Now you and I can't put faith into someone's heart. We can't change their attitude. But we can live our lives as people made rich by the Redeemer. That way, some day, some of these folks may come to their senses and say, "I think I'd like to be rich like him."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, once we were deep in debt. Through Your Son's sacrifice that has been changed, and now we have been made rich in a relationship with You. Grant that our lives may show our gratitude, so others may desire to be given faith also. This we ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries