Come with me into West Texas during the Depression. Mr. Ira Yates was like many other ranchers and farmers. He had a lot of land, and a lot of debt. Mr. Yates wasn’t able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch. With little money for clothes, food and other basic necessities, his family, like many others, had to live on a government subsidy.
Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills. Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract.
At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large. In fact, 30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day!
And Mr. Yates owned it all. The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he’d been living on relief. A multi-millionaire living in poverty. The problem? He didn’t know the oil was there, even though he owned it.
I think it’s fair to say that, at times, you and I are a lot like Mr. Yates. We are heirs to a vast treasure of unseen spiritual resources, and yet we often settle for spiritual poverty. We are entitled to the energizing power, presence and gifts of the Holy Spirit, and yet we are often unaware of our birthright and our blessings.
This Sunday (a week earlier than it actually appears on the liturgical calendar) we will focus on the message of Pentecost. Charity and I will be representing MUMC at the Missouri Annual Conference on Pentecost weekend. The message, titled “The Invisible 12th” will focus on the unseen, but very tangible influence, energy and support available to us through the Holy Spirit.
I hope you’ll be present in worship as we focus on the Spirit’s power and remember just how rich we are.