Many years ago, in 1843, a man was born who was to have a profound effect upon many thousands of lives. His name was Russell Herman Conwell. He grew up to first be a lawyer, then a newspaper editor and finally a clergyman. As a clergyman, Dr. Conwell single-handedly raised several million dollars to found Temple University. He raised this money by speaking to millions across the country, by telling the true story of the “Acres of Diamonds.” This story touched me greatly when I heard it several years ago and I would like to share it with you now.
The story was about a young African farmer who had heard several tales about other farmers making millions by discovering diamond mines. These stories excited the young farmer so much that he couldn’t wait to sell his farm and go prospect for diamonds himself. He soon sold his farm and spent the rest of his life searching for diamonds on the African continent, unsuccessfully. Finally, as the story goes, worn-out and despondent this man threw himself into a river and drowned.
Meanwhile, back at the farm, the man who bought the farm from the farmer happened to be crossing a small stream of water on his property one day. Suddenly, there was this bright flash of blue and red light from the bottom of the stream. He bent down and picked up a stone, a fairly good size stone, and after admiring it he put it on his fireplace mantle as an interesting curiosity.
Several months later a visitor to his home picked up the stone and after looking closely at it he nearly fainted. He asked the farmer, “Do you know what you have found?” When the farmer said no, that he thought it was a piece of crystal, the visitor told him that he had found one of the largest diamonds ever discovered. The farmer couldn’t believe it…he told the visitor that his creek was full of stones of the same type!
Needless to say, the farm the first farmer had left and sold so that he might find a diamond mine, turned out to be the most productive mine on the entire African continent. The first farmer had owned, free and clear, acres of diamonds, but he sold them for practically nothing in order to look for them elsewhere.
What is the moral of this story for the farmer? If only the first farmer had taken time to study and prepare himself – to learn what diamonds looked like in their rough state, and to thoroughly explore his own property before looking elsewhere…all of his wildest dreams would have come true.
What is the moral of this story for you and me? To recognize the idea that each of us could be, at this moment, standing in the middle of our own acres of diamonds. If we had the wisdom and patience to explore ourselves, our lives and the work we are now in, we will most probably find the riches we seek. So, before we run off to find greener pastures, let’s make sure that our own is not just as green, or maybe even greener! And you know what? If the grass is greener on the other side, it’s probably getting better care!