Ira Yates knew ranching. He didn’t know diddly about running a grocery store. So when Thomas Hickox offered to trade his ranch for the dry-goods store in Rankin, TX, Yates jumped at the chance to get back to what he knew.
He had been warned against the deal. “That land’s not worth the taxes,” they told him. “A crow wouldn’t even fly over it,” they said. But it was 16,640 acres of land that Yates could call his own. Never mind the constant boundary disputes and the “greasy” well water. She weren’t pretty, and she was a bit high-maintenance, but she was his.
For almost a decade, Yates struggled to make ends meet ranching his land, but the expenses were just too fat for his income to reach around. Droughts and the Great Depression stole every penny of profit he could get his hands on. He was just about ready to concede defeat. Looked like all the naysayers had been right.
But then he heard a rumor. West Texas was sitting on an oil reserve, they said.
Excited by the possibility, Yates tried to talk oil companies into drilling on his land, but no one thought there was any oil west of the Pecos River. For two years, he continued to ask big oil to come drill, but they were all too busy with established wells to pay him any attention. Then, in 1926, Yates convinced Transcontinental Oil and Ohio Oil to put up some test rigs on his land.
They had to drill four wells before they found anything, but on October 28th of that same year, Yates became an instant millionaire! For decades afterward, his ranch was the largest petroleum reserve in the United States, producing at its zenith an incredible 9,009 barrels of oil a day!
How many of us are sitting on untapped potential? How many of us have unused resources, talents, gifts and abilities? What are we saving them for? We give God glory by using everything He gave us, and our greatest potential for drawing others to Christ is in doing what God uniquely designed each of us to do.
If you haven’t discovered what that is yet, it’s time to start digging some wells. Maybe the first few things you try won’t pan out, but keep digging. Maybe everyone around you will tell you that you don’t really have anything to offer, but don’t believe them. You have abundance! It’s hidden inside, and you’ve got to search it out.
And if you’re stuck “ranching” today even though you know that’s not God’s ultimate purpose for you, remember to be faithful with small things. Even this work is part of God’s plan. Remember that Moses tended sheep for forty years, and Paul made tents. How you respond to these tests shows the quality of your heart. When you’ve passed the tests, God will show you your oilfield.
P.S. Don’t let anyone else drink your milkshake. ;0)