Note: This article originally ran in the January/February 1977 issue of Charisma magazine.
Today, if you drove through Greenville, South Carolina, you would see signs before all kinds of new construction, “The house that Jack built.”
If you talked with people—in high places and low, in church and outside—they would tell you, “Here is a young man who’s got it. He’s going places.”
Not that Jack is loud. On the contrary, Jack is quiet, serious, a devoted worker in his church, an active participant in his community, and above all—according to his ability—a tremendous giver.
Jack ran for the South Carolina state legislature and won. Seemingly, everything he touched turned out right. He became the leading young builder in Greenville.
Then the tight-money market hit in 1970 and things fell off. It hit him just like it did everyone else.
People knew Jack as a dedicated Christian, one who tried to reflect Christian principles in his business affairs. His word could be depended upon. But in this bad situation, his last source of money to complete a project was cut off, and he was facing a dead end.
As he shared this with me one day at Oral Roberts University, I realized that it was more than finances we were dealing with. Something deeper, more important, was at stake. Actually, he was wondering:
“If I fail, will those who know me as a Christian businessman wonder where Jack’s God is? I’ve given God credit for all my success; now, with this facing me and not knowing where to turn, what’s going to happen to me? Have I the right to ask the Lord for His special help for this kind of situation or must I look to God only for the salvation of my soul and spiritual affairs?”
I knew what Jack was feeling. The questions he was unconsciously asking had driven me away from God when I was only 17 years old, away from godly parents, the church, the Bible (on which I had been reared), and God Himself. Even when I was carried back home too sick to live, I still couldn’t relate God to the real situation I was in. When my family surrounded my bedside, those five terrible months as I lay hovering between life and death, praying that my soul would be saved, I could not respond. God was a blur in my mind. I had pain. My lungs were bleeding. I needed a dose of life. They were talking about heaven; I was concerned about living here on earth.
Seven words from my sister Jewel helped me open my mind to God, to miracles. “Oral, God is going to heal you.”
All I had ever heard about God from a child up began to come alive to me when Jewel said those seven words to me. It exploded within me. God wants me to live. Me! Here! NOW!
Facing Jack that day, seeing his downcast look, feeling what he was going through, I wanted to put my arms around him. I wanted to say, “Jack, you are a Christian: You know you are going to heaven. That’s good. But Jesus is so much more. He’s in the now! He’s at the point of this need in your life! Because you have this need, you can meet Jesus in a new dimension of understanding and trust.”
Instead, I said, “Read my book, Miracle of Seed-Faith, and we’ll talk in the morning.”
It was about the middle of the next morning when I saw Jack again. He walked up to me with a spring in his steps, a lift to his shoulders, a light in his eyes. He looked excited, and he was.
Jack said, “Oral, I’ve been a Christian for several years. But early this morning, I discovered for the first time in my life that God is the Source of my Total Supply as well as my Savior.
“I learned that He is concerned about me as a human being with a wife and children, as a young builder, as a man with financial problems and all my human hang-ups.
“Today, I know who my Source of Supply is. Better still, I know He controls many sources of financial supply I haven’t thought of. I’m not going to worry myself by trying to find these new sources. I’m going to look to God my Source to open them up to me.”
“Do you believe He will open them up to you?”
“Yes, sir, I do.” Then he said, “There’s one more thing I learned last night.”
“I learned that what I give is a seed I plant, and that I can seed for a miracle by giving first and expect a miracle back from God my Source.”
“Wait a minute, Jack. You’ve gotten deeper into The Miracle of Seed-Faith than I expected. You’ve always given to the Lord.”
“Yes, we’ve tried. There’s something we misapplied, however. Our giving has always been an obligation. We felt we owed it, that God has been good to us and we should give. But you showed me from Jesus Himself that when we give first, it will be given to us again. Well, I never expected anything back. I have a check in my pocket I came intending to give, but I’m giving it with a different attitude now.”
I said, “How do you mean?”
He said, “OK, you said in your book that our giving is not to be a ‘debt we owe but a seed we sow.’ I accept that. You said we were to ‘expect the seed to be multiplied back in the form of our own needs.’ That’s a completely new thought to me, but it’s in the Bible and I accept it. Then you said to ‘expect a miracle.’ Not from the ones we give to or help … but from our source, God. I’ve never done this before, but I see God in a whole new light. He is really my complete source of supply. I see that now for the first time in my life.”
I would like to be able to tell you that when Jack got home—presto! Everything fell into place right off. But it didn’t … it seldom does. To me, however, that makes it even more real when God our mighty Source does act.
Later, I learned that for about two weeks, Jack was plagued with self-doubt. What he had read in Miracle of Seed-Faith, and all the positive things he had said to me in Tulsa, seemed to fade when he got back where the problems were—banks that still liked and believed in him but simply didn’t have loan money available. Over 100 men on the payroll—men who, with their families, had to eat.
Now, picture this with me. Jack’s driving down the street. Two books are on the seat by him, his Bible and The Miracle of Seed-Faith. He parks and reads, puts the manuscript down, picks up his Bible, checks the Scripture reference.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
“Give, and it shall be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give into your bosom. For with what measure you give, it shall be given to you again” (Luke 6:38).
“Therefore, I say unto you, whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper” (3 John 2).
Then he goes over the three keys in his mind.
Key No. 1: God is the Source of my Total Supply.
Key No. 2: Seed for your miracle.
Key No. 3: Expect a miracle.
It was in the Bible. It was good. But now he was alone with the same problems.
This is how Jack related he was thinking at the time:
“I’ve never doubted God directed me in this work. But I’ve got houses on my hands that have sat for months. They won’t sell. Houses just aren’t selling. No one is selling houses.
“I picked up my Bible again and asked the Lord to just give me a word of faith. I knew God could speak to me, but out of Ezekiel, of all places!
“I’ve heard people say that they were reading the Bible and a certain Scripture just stood out on the page to them. Well, this is really what happened to me. I read in Ezekiel 36:26-36 and this especially spoke to me:
“A new heart also will I give you … I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be budded. And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
“And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.
“Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate; I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it.”
“God has given me the gift of faith for this need and I never worried about these problems again. Within the next six weeks, we sold all those houses—over three-fourths of a million dollars worth of real estate!
“This was a miracle. This was happening in our business, to the amazement of others. But the greater miracle was that God overruled my desperation to have been willing to sell just to get back part of the money I had put up … and, in addition, gave us a fair profit!
“Then my faith really soared and I started expecting more miracles. I knew a lady that had a choice piece of land that adjoined a prime piece I already owned, and to develop it to its full potential I needed her acres. But several other real-estate men were also trying to deal with her for it.
“She had already turned me down several times and other real estate men said, ‘You’ll never get it.’ But soon she called me and said she was ready to deal! The amount I had to pay down was so small I almost had to pinch myself. She wanted me to have it. She said, ‘Here, it’s right for you to have it.’
“While I was recovering from that miracle, I received a call from an unexpected source for the loan I had been turned down on before.
“Somebody big was moving in my life, in my behalf. Somebody not boxed in by circumstances. Circumstances come and go but He doesn’t. He’s steady. He is the Source.”
Jack Shaw had learned how to not limit God.
Other builders and businessmen suffering the same fate as Jack soon saw Jack was making it when no one else was. They would look at him, then talk among themselves.
Jack wrote for several copies of Miracle of Seed-Faith. He gave them to 10 of these men, saying, “Hole up somewhere with this book and your Bible; let God talk to you.”
Now here’s how to check yourself when it seems that seeding for a miracle in your finances isn’t working:
I was praying the other day about a problem that was beginning to get me down, when I remembered I must do something first for God before I asked Him for the solution to my problem.
When I finished praying I took my Bible and I checked myself on the “3 Keys” by reading the Scriptures on which they are based.
I checked myself with Philippians 4:19, and asked, “Am I really looking to God as the Source of my Total Supply to solve this problem? Or am I just dwelling on the problem?”
Then turning to Luke 6:38 and 2 Corinthians 9:10, I asked, “Am I seeding for this need and expecting God to multiply back?”
Then I searched my heart and asked, “Am I expecting God to start giving me my miracle in the now for this problem?”
I have learned in problem after problem that asking myself these questions really helps. I find I can stop thinking so much about my problem and put my thoughts on God, Who Is the Answer.
God becomes bigger than the thing that is seriously affecting me. It also helps me to see that God has conditions for me to meet, and when I do, I can rightfully expect a miracle, and sooner or later it will happen. I say sooner or later for God is going to act in His own way, and in His own time.
Oral Roberts, president and founder of Oral Roberts University, was the author of many books including, The Miracle Book from which this article was excerpted.