by Martijn van Tilborgh
I remember it as if it were yesterday. One day back in 2008, I sat down with my wife, Amy, to add up our credit card debt. We knew we had accumulated consumer debt over a period of time, but for some reason we had never made an inventory of exactly how much money we really owed.
I’m sure the underlying reason was “denial”; I simply didn’t want to face the reality of our situation because the truth was too hard to face.
That day I discovered that we owed over $60,000—an amount that was impossible to pay back based on our then-income. I broke out in a cold sweat. I was about to have a panic attack. The reality of our situation paralyzed me mentally as I saw no way out.
But then, in the middle of my despair, I realized something. The same truth that got me spiraling down, had the ability to set me free. The choice was mine! Was I going to let the reality of my situation control me, or was I going to allow the truth to set me free?
Needless to say, I choose the latter.
As soon as I made the mental decision to allow the truth to deliver me from my despair, I was reminded of the story in 2 Kings 4 about a widow who found herself and her family in a desperate situation.
Like me, her circumstances had led her on to a path where she accumulated a tremendous amount of debt. There simply wasn’t a way out for her unless God intervened. And he did!
The answer for her situation came through a simple question from Elisha: “Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
The question asked by the prophet implies that, even in the most desperate situations, there is something close at hand that is the answer to your problem. Elisha’s question pushed her to identify the very thing that would become the vehicle of her deliverance.
It was a small jar of olive oil: something seemingly insignificant that became a weapon of war that would lead her to victory, favor, and incredible abundance.
Source of abundance
My main take-away from this story was that the answer to her problem was not found externally. Her situation was “fixed” through something she already possessed. Something seemingly small didn’t just become the antidote to her problems, it became a source of abundance that would leave a legacy for her family.
In my case, the “oil” that I was able to identify was that I had once read a book on Photoshop. That’s right, Photoshop, that software that allows you to design stuff.
I must have been very bored, but at one point I had picked up a how-to book from the bookstore about Photoshop and actually read it cover to cover.
That “oil,” which appeared to be totally insignificant, would became the source of the abundance I experience today. It allowed me to build seven companies that generate millions of dollars every year.
Here’s what I learned from all that: The bridge between lack and abundance is found in something you already possess, not something outside of your reach!
The key is to hear “the voice of God” in your current circumstance that will allow you to leverage something you have already got to take you from lack to abundance. The kingdom of God is always within a hand’s reach. The answer to your problem is always already in your possession.
Let me give you another illustration that will show you that the gateway to your abundance already exists where you are. In John 21 we read the story of Jesus’ disciples fishing all night and catching nothing. The time, the effort, the patience put into their work amounted to zip. The lack they were experiencing was disheartening. That was, until they allowed Jesus to speak into their situation.
In verse 6 (NKJV) we read: “And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.”
The voice of Jesus in their situation was instantly able to pave a way from lack to abundance.
But what’s important to understand is that the answer to their problem was already in their possession. The voice of Jesus was merely putting their mind in the right place to tap into the abundance that already existed in their current situation.
So often we default to looking for answers outside of our situation. But God wants us to leverage what we already got. It’s all about what you do with what you have already got that will make the difference.
Here’s what I mean. This is how the disciples leveraged what they already had to experience abundance.
1) They used the equipment they already had
I can imagine throughout the night that Peter and Thomas were having conversations about their fishing equipment… Their boat was getting old. It couldn’t compete anymore with other boats that were much better equipped to catch fish. They probably needed to invest in the latest technology that would allow them to be more effective in their efforts. But how would they afford such equipment?
But none of that mattered. The same equipment that was used to catch nothing, was the same equipment that brought in the multitude of fish.
Your computer may be old. Your vehicle may not be the best. Just know that you have something that can be leveraged to get started, even if it isn’t ideal.
2) They leveraged their current location
A logical conclusion could have been that they were fishing in the wrong lake. Maybe they (and others) had gone out too often to catch too many fish, so that there weren't any left in the lake. They should just get their trailer and drive their boat to another lake.
None of that, either. The same location that brought them lack, became the location that got them almost too much to handle.
Just because you live in a small town with less opportunities, doesn't mean you have to move to the big city to make it. Allow God to speak into your current location to align your mind with the opportunity that already exists within the “lake” that you’re fishing in.
3) They didn’t look for new partnerships
“If only I could be on Shark Tank and partner with Mark Cuban. Or if only Oprah Winfrey could endorse our product.”
It would have been easy for the disciples to dream about some pie-in-the-sky partnership that would probably never happen as being the solution to their problem.
But no, they simply worked with the relationships that were already in place. There was no need to “sell a percentage of the company” to a third party. They simply worked the relationships they already had to get from lack to abundance.
4) They used the education they already had
Sure, it’s always good to learn and develop yourself. However, the disciples weren’t exclusively dependent on additional education to be able to experience abundance. They didn’t quit their jobs to start a four-year degree in hopes they would catch more after they graduated.
No online course. They simply leveraged the skill and knowledge that was already in place to experience all that God had for them.
The bridge between lack and abundance is not found externally, but is right where you are at. All we have to do is to allow God to identify what we should do with what we already have.
This isn’t to say that as we multiply our God-given talents we shouldn’t invest in better equipment or move into larger markets. The point is that we have what we need to be delivered from our problems, if we can discern what it is we need within what we already possess.
Let’s stop looking at those who have five talents while we may only have one and saying, “If only I had five, my life would be different.” No matter how small or insignificant your “oil” seems to you, it holds the seed to your harvest.