TD Jakes - The Strategy of Cultivation
You know the funniest thing to me is that poor people think that rich people don't get crushed. They think that if they had money, they'd have everything. But crushing is the one thing in the world that you can count on to be totally unbiased. It is not one bit prejudiced. If you're white, you get crushed. If you're black, you get crushed. If you're young, you get crushed. If you're old, you get crushed. If you're female or male, you get crushed. If you make a lot of money, you get crushed. If you can't find a job. Crushing is not prejudice. It comes to every person's life. We all experience seasons of death and desperation, dreams dashed, relationships crumbled, businesses fall, it seems like you're going to die. Whether that business is a big corporate office bringing in billions of dollars reporting to shareholders, or whether it's a mom and pop shop, a dry-cleaning service or a cupcake shop, you go through changes. It is the crushing that gives you wisdom. You cannot buy wisdom in a store. You cannot get it in a jar. It is the crushing that gives you wisdom.
It is Nelson Mandela wrongfully in prison, shut up in a prison in the middle of an island for years, never knowing that while he was an inmate having food shoved to him like a dog to eat off the ground, that he would be the president of South Africa. And if he had not endured the prison, he wouldn't make the presidency. It is the prison that created the presidency. That is what crushing is. It is the ability to endure the wisdom of the vintner, for the vintner knows exactly where to crush you. I know Nelson Mandela would not have picked such an unsavory place to be president. Most presidents don't go to jail to be president. They go to Yale to be president. But not Nelson, Nelson went to jail and he still got there. You must believe that in spite of the suffering, you will still get there, that God has a watch and it never loses time, and he knows exactly when to raise you and exactly when to bring you out, and when the stage is set and the time is right, nobody can hold you down when God gets ready to raise you up.
But the problem with the seed is that it can't think, so it doesn't understand the suffering, and it doesn't understand the pain, and it can't hear me, and sometimes the hardest part about being a preacher is that you want so much for the people to get it, and sometimes the people who need it the most, they really don't really hear you. That you're on course when you're off course. That you're planted when you thought you were buried. That the only way up is to go down. That everything in the Kingdom is backwards. That if you exalt yourself, he'll abase you. If you abase yourself, he'll exalt you. Death is necessary to create life. Jesus says, "I come that you might have life", and then dies, because the cost of life was death. Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth, that right now those of you that are watching and those of you that are listening at me may be going through something that seems unbearable and painful and personal and difficult to articulate to anybody else because pain is always personal.
How wrong, it's not right. It's not right, it wasn't right for my daughter to be pregnant. I'm a bishop seen all over the country. It's not right for us to have a private moment in a public place. It's not right that my mother, who was the smartest person I've ever seen in my life, would gradually have her mind peeled back like an onion until she couldn't tell a banana from an orange. It's not right. Sometimes it is necessary in order to cultivate in the vineyard, you have to disrupt the soil, you have to turn it over, you have to disrupt everything around it, you have to pull some weeds sometimes. You've got to uproot some plants, you have to cause dishevel in order to get where you want to go, and it's messy, and it's dirty, and it's not right, but it's necessary. And we feel pain, and sometimes the pain we don't even have anybody to talk to about. Private, secret pain, pain locked up behind your lips, pain behind your make up, pain behind your nice coat. Sometimes you dress up to hide so nobody can see how deep down inside you're hurting. Intimacy is "Into me see", yet nobody sees into me. And so I paint this face of who you think I am, and smile the way you want me to smile, and I perform for you, and that's the only reason I get tired of you, because I yearn to take the mask off and be who I really am, and say I am confused, and I am hurting, and I am suffering, and this crushing feels like death.
The death of my ideas is the birthing place of his purpose. God works in crushing, and it pleased him to bruise it. It pleased God to bruise us, not because he is sadistic, not because we are masochistic. It pleases him to bruise us because he knows that the end result will put us in a state where we can no longer ferment, where we can handle the setback, a disappointment, where we can handle a hurt. See, wine doesn't spoil. It will last for years and years and years in the dark, in the basement, in the cellar because it's been through enough crushing to endure time. And you can tell when a person has been crushed, because they are survivors. People who have been crushed are survivors. When my church emptied out, and we were going through COVID, and I had to preach in an empty building by myself, it was no problem, because I started preaching in an empty building, and I don't need people in order to do what God called me to do. I don't need applause, I don't need clapping, I don't need shouting, I don't need dancing, I don't need an organ. All I need is what's in me.
If God is inside of you, all crushing will do is push him out. And might I add this final remark: if Satan were smart, he would never push, because if he never pushed me, I wouldn't secrete the glory. If you never push me, I would have never found out who I was. If you never push me, I would have never found out what I could do. If you never pushed me, I would have never found out what I could be. But the more we are afflicted, the Bible says, the more we grow, so if you feel like you're being afflicted, and if you feel like you're dying, and if you feel like he's pushing on you, hang in there. The best is yet to come.
"Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we may ask or think, according to the power that works in us", simply means that the seed doesn't know what it's becoming. If he's able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we may ask or think, that means we have no idea what he's making when he's making us. And the seed doesn't know what the vintner is doing. He just has to trust him. Constricted to his methods. Imprisoned by his purpose. Locked up in a situation where you just have to trust him. I didn't wake up the person you see today. Not by a long shot. Nowhere close. If you would have met me at 18 and told me that I would end up being this, I would have laughed in your face. If you'd have told me at 16 that I would end up here, all of my neighbors would have laughed. My classmates would have laughed in your face. I was a wretched little boy, but I didn't know what God was making. I thought I was gonna be a musician. I didn't know what God was making. But little by little, step by step, day by day, situation by situation, he was leading me into my purpose and destiny. Not only by the doors that opened, but by the doors that closed.
From humble beginnings. I mean we were "Po". "Po" is when you cannot afford the -O-R. My idea of rich people were people who had grass in their yards. Rich people were people who had air-conditioning, and a doorbell meant you were wealthy. Just a doorbell. I couldn't imagine having a doorbell with the chimes that rang and the little things that hung down. It was amazing, I saw them on TV. What I had was a raggedy screen door cut down at the bottom and a sunken porch where the concrete had rotted out of the middle of it, and I had to step over it to come into the house, and if you didn't fasten the screen door, it would swing open, and that's where I came from. But I didn't know what God was making. And it was necessary that I come from there, because of the heights he would be taking me to. I would never have to question in myself, "why I do what I do", because I did it broke, and I did it lonely, and I did it with no money, and I did it with no car, and I did it with my lights off, and I did it in the crushing, so that now as he begins to bring me into my senior years, I can see God doing things with me that I never imagined possible. That I would be sitting across from Oprah Winfrey on her show was something I never asked for. That I would sit down with the CEO of AT&T, then Randall Stephenson, and have a discussion about equity is something that I couldn't imagine.
AT&T? That I would be closing on property right next to Tyler Perry's studios. It's got grass! I mean it got really grass! That I would write books that were translated into multiple languages around the world. Woman Thou Art Loosed has been translated into 12 different languages. They say it's Japanese, I can't read it, but I trust it that's what it is. It's Mandarin and Chinese. I can't read it, but I trust that's what it is, that that would come out of a guy who was just writing short stories in the eighth grade. I can't understand it. You don't know what God is making while you're aching. You don't know what God is making while you're aching. You don't know what God is making while you're crying. You don't know what God is making while you're lonely. You don't know what God is making while you're suffering, but I declare unto you, he is making something. You may feel dislocated, you may feel dislodged. You can't always see what the master is doing. Only when we look back, then we see that God had a plan when all we had was pain. God had a plan.
I had no idea that my daughter getting pregnant, I hated it, it hurt. It's not about embarrassment, it wasn't about image, it was just my baby girl. It was about her future, about her destiny. Then I thought this is a mistake, this is wrong, this is wrong, this can't happen, this can't happen to us! And now when she stands up in the pulpit and preach, I realize that if she hadn't gotten pregnant, she wouldn't have been the person that she became, and that going backwards is what drove her forward, and that God was smarter than I was, and he knows exactly what to take to bring you to the place that he can get out of you what he wants out of you, and he doesn't care whether you're embarrassed or not, and he doesn't care whether people talk about you or not, he doesn't care what they think about you, he only cares that he gets out of you what he put inside of you.
He will take you from seed to bearing fruit, and you don't get to choose the method he uses. You don't get to pick the tool that he cuts you with. It may have been your first relationship. It may have been a rape. It may have been childhood abuse. But it shaped something in you as horrific as it was that made you self-reliant and able to stand. And when you got through crying about it, you woke up a tougher woman than you were a girl. Does anybody know what I'm talking about?
The thing I love the most about him is that God never gives up on you. He doesn't wait until you're in the bad place and then walk out like people do. Because people are great when you're up, but when you're down, they'll run out. When you're weak, they'll run out. When you make mistakes, they'll run out, and the church is masterful, masterful at killing its wounded. It's masterful at that. We have no real method to really restore our wounded, especially when they're talented. So we shoot them for being too much like us. And there is no place to recover. But just because man is through with you does not mean that God is through with you. I don't know who I'm talking to today but I feel like I'm talking to somebody. Just because man has turned his back and found out something about you, and said you're a nobody, doesn't mean that God is through with you, because whatever they found out, God already knew. You have never surprised God. You have never shocked God. You have never left God scratching his head, so stop being frustrated, because he never ever gives up on you, and that is crushing.
The uniqueness of being a human is the senses that God has equipped us with to be able to be in touch with the world. I know I'm alive because I see, I smell, I touch, I feel, my senses. And the very thing that he equipped me with that is unique that's makes me able to survive even in the jungle of life is also the thing that gives me discomfort when my situation changes. And we talked about dirty places. And we've talked about disruptive places. And we've talked about discomfort. But we have not talked about smelly places.
I want to talk about the discomfort of dung, the things that God uses to fertilize you. Smell. And they smell bad. The rubbish, the refuge, the dung, it's what the vine dresser uses to make mulch. It's what he puts all around you when he really wants you to grow tall and strong and fruitful. He puts stink all around you. And you can't buy enough cologne to cover it up, because when it stinks, it stinks. A marriage that stinks, stinks. A bad relationship with your child stinks. It stinks in public, it stinks with the principal, it stinks in the school. It stinks in prison. It stinks in jail. It stinks in court, it stinks.
God uses stinky stuff. You must realize that God uses those things so that we will become what he has created for us to be. That out of that, the nutrients that are necessary come from the stink we've been in. And if you can endure through your senses the discomfort of the aroma, eventually God is going to get something fragrant out of the funk you've been in. Fragrance will come from funk. It's hard to explain but it's true. It is true none the less that some kind of way that stability will come out of being stuck. Stuck. Stuck.
I love the commercial where the woman falls down on the ground, she's an old lady and she says, "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up"! Because somebody watching me right now, you've fallen and you can't get up. But if you holler "help", God will get some glory out of the funk you're in, the pain you're in, the disgrace you're in, the discomfort you're in, the crisis you're in, the turmoil you're in. You will rise again. In the words of Maya Angelou "And still I rise". Look back over your life at how many things tried to crush you and still I rise. We don't clap for ourselves. We are so busy complaining about where we have not gotten to that we don't acknowledge where we have come from, and every now and then you need to throw yourself a party, and put a hat on your head, and blow a whistle, and bake yourself a cake, and put candles on it and light it, and celebrate the fact that you have survived the funk.