We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Jentezen Franklin, New York Times Bestselling author and Senior Pastor of Free Chapel about the fallacy of elsewhere—and how life’s real treasures are closer than we think.
The full interview will be featured in our upcoming spring 2020 issue. In stores April 1st.
Link2Us: Could you tell us about the inspiration behind the book?
Jentezen Franklin: Well, it all came about because of an amazing story by Russell Conwell— an attorney in the 1800s, whose dream was to go to the Holy Land. While in the Middle East, he had an Arab guide who told him about a true story that so touched him, he put it in a pamphlet and it became a bestselling book. It sold 7 million copies. Conwell, gave his speech based on the story over 6,000 times— and later became the founder of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
As the story goes, Ali Hafed, owner of a South African farm worked by the sweat of his brow for all he had—and though not a rich man, was content. Until one day, a stranger came through and told him about the fact that they were discovering diamond mines in India, and if he would go, he would become fabulously wealthy quickly, and wouldn’t have to work so hard every day. Overtime, Hafed became discontent and determined he would chase his dream. So he sold the farm, kissed his wife and children good-bye and with a bold declaration said to them, “When I come back, we’ll be fabulously wealthy. You’ll be set for life.” As the story continues, Hafed goes around the world in search of diamonds and ends up in Spain, where he takes his life by jumping into a raging river out of desperation and says, “There’s no diamonds anywhere.”
Later in the story, the man who bought the farm [after Hafed], began to use the same plow, worked the same field and found diamonds! The new owner, inadvertently discovered the diamond mine of Golconda—the most magnificent diamond mine in history right in his back yard! In fact, crown jewels worn by royalty including the Queen Mother in England come from this very mine to this day. And here’s my point, I think we’re always looking out there somewhere, if I had this, if I had that marriage, or that person, that job, or that house, car, or that opportunity, and we don’t realize that right where we are—when we focus on what we do have—we discover the acres of diamonds in our lives.
L2Us: Diamonds, just like people, are developed through pressure, heat, and time. But most folks tend to run from these things, why shouldn’t they?
JF: Well, because that’s how diamonds are formed. You can’t have the carbon atoms turned into a diamond until there is extreme pressure and heat put on them. I think it’s a great lesson in life that no one gets anywhere successfully in life without extreme heat and pressure—the heat meaning the furnace of life. So many times we avoid trials, and we want to run to the easy fix and quick success, not understanding that time and pressure are working God’s plan in our lives. He has to purify our motives, our dreams, and our hearts, so when he releases the blessing into our lives, it won’t be about them, or about us, or about the stuff, but will be about Him. When you reach that point in your life where you decide for yourself that “I know God called me to this place, to this marriage, to this family, to this job, to this dream, to this career ,” that’s when you need to pray, “God open my eyes,” because the amazing thing about the story I just told, is that both men were looking at the same fields, looking at the same acres, and while one man saw worthless trash, the other man saw treasure; and that’s where we need to pray, “God, open my eyes and let me see what you see.” David said in Psalm 119, “Open my eyes to wonderful things.” That means, you can have wonderful things all around you and not know it or see it until God opens your eyes.
L2Us: What would you say to someone who knows they heard from God on something, but it seems like it’s so far away, even out of their reach?
JF: Well, I don’t believe that. I believe that if God put it in your heart, you can do it; but it’s not on your time clock, it’s not on your time table, but the acres of diamonds that God has for us, will require a willingness to say, “Lord, I’m going to give all that I’ve got, and I’m going to use what I’ve got to do what I can with what I’ve got, and I’m going to stay in this place. The Bible says in Proverbs 17, “the eyes of the fool are on the ends of the earth,” in other words, he is always looking somewhere else. [We think] The grass is always greener on the other side of a relationship or we move from job to job… Not saying there are not times for transition, but at some point, you have to get grounded, take root and say, “this is it, I’m going to believe that God can use the place where I am.” So stay. Sometimes you’ve got to stay where you are because sometimes success is a four-letter word called “Stay.” And when you do, commit to it.
L2Us: What do you want readers to come away with from reading Acres of Diamonds?
JF: I want it to be two-fold. Number one, I want them to discover that oftentimes God’s best is right where you are, and to enjoy where you are while you’re waiting. I would say to single people [in ministry] and to pastors who think, “If I could just get to five hundred people, if I could be like that mega-church down the road that has three thousand people, then I could really enjoy my life and feel like I’ve done something.” If you have a hundred people in your church, and you’re where God wants you to be, it’s not about the size, it’s about being obedient to God. [The idea of] Success, is only found one time in the bible— as Joshua 1, tells us, “If you meditate on the Word, you’ll have good success.” On the other hand, faithfulness is found all through the bible, and the key to finding the diamonds is being faithful no matter what. And when you’re faithful, God promises that he will reward you for your faithfulness with his blessings in your life and in the life to come. The ultimate acres of diamonds are in heaven, and the earth that we live in is sometimes full of pressure, full of fiery trials and defeat. Still, God says, “I am molding you, and I am making you for another world, and you are going to live on acres of diamonds with me, throughout eternity.”