by Jim Buchan
Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed,
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed.
Then one day he was shootin’ at some food,
And up through the ground came a bubblin’ crude.
Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.
– “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” by Paul Henning
For most Baby Boomers, the amazing story of Jed Clampett’s sudden wealth is well known. “The Beverly Hillbillies” TV show chronicled Jed’s discovery of oil while “shootin’ at some food.” Suddenly Jed is a millionaire, so he packs up his old truck and moves his family to California.
While Jed Clampett’s story seems whimsical, if not ridiculous, it’s actually packed with some vital biblical lessons for anyone who desires a new level of financial prosperity:
1. Miracles happen. Not many people discover oil when they’re out coon hunting! Ordinarily, wealth is attained “little by little” and day by day rather than by some kind of sudden financial breakthrough (Exodus23:29-30). Those who adopt a “get rich quick” monetary strategy are usually lazy and prone to be suckers for lottery tickets and bets at race tracks.
You’ve probably heard it said that “money doesn’t grow on trees”—but that’s not true! Just ask someone who gets their living by growing apples, oranges or peaches. Even Bill Gates—the wealthiest man in the world—“planted a tree” when he started the Microsoft Corporation!
So when you ask God for a miraculous financial breakthrough, consider that He often responds by telling you to plant something that can bear fruit. Despite Jed Clampett’s remarkable story, things usually don’t happen that way. The Bible’s teaching is clear: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6-11). If you want a great harvest, you need to sow some seeds!
Nevertheless, God wants us to know that He can, and WILL, give financial breakthroughs to His people. The pages of Scripture are filled with examples of this:
- In mere hours, Joseph went from the prison to the palace—from dire poverty to sensational wealth (Genesis 41:39-43).
- Mephibosheth experienced a sudden and unexpected rise from the squalor of Lo-Debar to the splendor of the king’s banquet hall (2 Samuel 9).
- Four lepers were starving to death just before they took a bold step of faith and discovered riches more lavish than they ever could have dreamed of (2 Kings 7:3-9).
- Job had been stripped of all his possessions before God broke through and gave him double of everything he had lost (Job 42:10-12).
- Peter and his fishing partners had “worked all night and caught nothing” right before Jesus gave them a miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11).
Like Jed Clampett, these biblical characters each experienced a special moment in time when their financial situation took a “quantum leap” forward. And if it happened to them, it can happen to you.
These characters in Scripture also have something else in common with Jed: They were suffering tremendous lack just prior to receiving their breakthrough. In Jed’s case, he “barely kept his family fed.” Joseph was in the dungeon…the lepers were starving…Job was destitute…and the fishermen were frustrated by their inability to prosper at their profession.
If you are experiencing financial frustrations in your own life today, remember this first lesson: God can do miracles to turn your situation around.
2. Do what you love to do. When did old Jed’s turnaround occur? He was hunting—doing something he loved to do!
The TV scriptwriters could have said Jed struck it rich on Wall Street or in the real estate market, but that would have been even harder to believe than his discovery of oil! In the same way, God usually will give us our breakthroughs when we’re doing something we love—fulfilling the very thing He has put in our heart to do.
Taking your shotgun into the woods or your fishing pole to the lake may not seem a very likely way to strike it rich…but the key is to look for careers or entrepreneurial ventures that truly fit your God-given personality and passion. You will always find God’s blessing in the place He wants you to be—even if that means being outdoors, “shootin’ at some food.”
3. Accidents can be a blessing. Before Jed Clampett took his shotgun into the woods, he didn’t tell his family he was going out to search for oil! His discovery was merely a byproduct of being in the right place, at the right time, doing the thing God wanted him to do.
Likewise, many of the greatest scientific and medical discoveries in history were made entirely by accident!
- Christopher Columbus wasn’t looking for the New World—he just wanted to find a shortcut to India and China. His “accident” turned out to be quite a blessing!
- Coca-Cola was invented by Dr. John Pemberton in May 1886—as a headache tonic. When Coca-Cola was first marketed as a beverage at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, sales averaged just nine servings a day, and Pemberton lost money on the product. But today more than one billion drinks of Coke are consumed each day, and the Coca-Cola Company receives trillions of dollars of annual revenue.
- Penicillin was discovered in 1928, when Alexander Fleming noticed that mold spores from an open window were destroying harmful bacteria samples he was experimenting on.
- X-rays were accidentally discovered in 1895 by German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen when he was studying cathode rays.
- Post-it Notes were made possible when a researcher at the 3M Company was trying to improve adhesive tape. He came up with a semi-sticky adhesive that at first seemed worthless.
These stories show that God can use our mistakes and accidents to be a blessing, but it’s crucial for us to recognize the blessing when it comes. Jed somehow realized that the “bubblin’ crude” was a valuable discovery.
Don’t miss this vital lesson: We must be alert to God’s blessings, even when we stumble upon them by mistake or during a time of apparent failure in what we set out to do. We’re not told whether Jed ever succeeded in shooting any food for his family that day…but that didn’t matter in the larger scheme of things.
4. God gets the credit. Supernatural breakthroughs are truly super-natural—a matter of grace rather than human effort.Jed obviously couldn’t take much credit for his financial windfall. God had sovereignly blessed him, and Jed merely stumbled into his newfound prosperity.
Of course, there’s also another side to this. Miracles often come when we take action to obey some kind of instruction or prompting by God:
- The four lepers took action to leave their comfort zone and visit the Syrian camp.
- Job’s financial restoration came after he prayed for his friends.
- The fishermen received the miracle catch of fish after they obeyed Jesus’ instruction about where to cast their net.
Nevertheless, no human merit or effort could be credited for the extraordinary abundance these folks received. As Deuteronomy 8:17-18 tells us, “It is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”
5. The oil was there all along. Did God first create the oil reserve on the day Jed found it? Of course not. The oil had been there all along—right under Jed’s feet as he lived in near poverty with his family. But Jed was so preoccupied with his coon hunting that for years he failed to recognize the incredible hidden wealth that was available to him.
And don’t miss this: If the reservoir of oil could be revealed by Jed’s stray bullet, it must have been awfully close to the surface! Even though our financial breakthrough may seem a million miles away, the truth is that it’s often right under our feet and just below the surface! It has been there all along, and we simply need to dig in the right spot.
6. Jed’s breakthrough caused a ripple effect. Jed wasn’t the only one impacted by his discovery. The ripple effect of blessing touched each of his family members and an ever-widening circle of others who were touched by his bounty.
In the same way, God wants to bless us so we can BE a blessing (Genesis 12:2). Those who are generous will prosper (Proverbs11:25), and their prosperity will touch many others. God wants to bless us in such a way that people all over the earth will hear of Him! (Psalm 67:1-7)
If you woke up tomorrow morning and found that a few million dollars had unexpectedly been placed into your bank account, who would be impacted? Hopefully there would be a multitude of other people who would be touched because of your unselfish generosity.
7. Jed had to learn how to handle his windfall. It’s one thing to receive a windfall of money, and it’s quite another thing to know what to do with it. That’s why many lottery winners are absolutely broke just a few years after receiving an award of millions of dollars. They didn’t have the knowledge or character to handle their sudden abundance.
Jed’s lifestyle dramatically changed. He was used to living in the hills, but NOT Beverly Hills! Most of the humor of “The Beverly Hillbillies” involved Jed and his family learning an entirely different skill-set from anything they had known before.
What about you? Do you have the wisdom, self-control and character to handle a huge financial windfall if the Lord gave you one? Would such a windfall be a blessing or a curse to you?
I was impressed by an interview several years ago of Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life. Rick pastored a large church, but never in his life had he seen financial compensation like the millions of dollars he received in royalties for his best-selling book.
How did Rick Warren handle his rapid financial boon? He and his wife determined that their standard of living would not change substantially. He set up a nonprofit foundation to handle most of the added revenue and funnel it toward humanitarian purposes. And Rick even decided to give the church back all the compensation he had received as its pastor over the years.
Are You Ready?
I’m preparing my heart for a financial breakthrough, and I hope you are too. It could come today as you are “shootin’ at some food,” or perhaps it will take a while longer. It may come as a dramatic and surprising event like Jed Clampett experienced, or it may occur gradually, through the processes of wise saving and investing.
When the windfall comes, may we be found faithful. May there be a ripple effect of blessing that touches numerous lives with the bounty God has graciously provided. And may the Lord be glorified as our integrity and character pass the tests that financial abundance will surely bring.