"So far as is known, "Acres of Diamonds" has been the most popular single lecture ever given in the world. The five- thousandth lecture was delivered in Philadelphia, where the presentation had been made many times before, yet the proceeds from this single lecture was over nine thousand dollars and many people had to be turned away. Dr. Conwell presented the same lecture to American audiences on an average of two hundred times each year for over twenty- five years. The total income from admissions was in eccess of four million dollars. Dr. Conwell used the money largely to help deserving young people aquire an education.
"A substantial amount of the interest in this lecture came from Dr. Cornwell himself, who was a man of great personal inspiration and accomplishment. But the lecture itself contains a great idea, and that idea is just as important now as it was in Dr. Cornwell's day.
" The theme of this four- million message centers around an ancient Persian farmer by the name of Ali Hafed. Ali Hafed owned a large farm made up of orchards, grain feilds, and gardens. He had money out at interest, and he was a wealthy and contented man. He was contented because he was wealthy, and he was wealthy because he was contented.
" But one day Ali Hafed had a visit from a Buddhist priest who was one of the best-informed men of his time. That evening the priest sat before the fire with Ali Hafed and told him about the world and how it was made. He explained that the most valuable thing in the world was a diamond. The priest explained that a diamond was a drop of congealed sunlight, a deposit of carbon from the sun. The old priest told Ali Hafed that if he had one diamond the size of his thumb, he could purchase the entire community in which he lived. And if he could find a diamond mine, he could place his children upon thrones.
" After Ali Hafed had learned about diamonds, he thought of nothing else, and that night he went to bed a poor man. He had lost none of his material wealth, but he was poor now because he was discontented, and he was discontented because he now thought of himself as being poor. He now wanted diamonds more than anything else in the world. He lay awake all night thinking about these precious gems and how he could get them.
" He inquired where diamonds might be found. The old priest did not know, but he told Ali Hafed that somewhere in the world there were plenty of diamonds, and all that anyone had to do was find them. Ali Hafed made up his mind. He sold his farm, left his family in charge of a neighboor, took his money, and started out to search the world for diamonds.
" He began his explorations at the Mountains of the Moon. Afterward he traveled throughout Asia. He searched in Palestine. He went on into Europe. After years of searching, his money had all been spent, and he found himself in rags, wretchedness, and poverty. One day he stood on the shores of the bay of the Strait of Gibraltar in the south of Spain as a great tidal wave cam rolling in between the Pillars of Hercules. There the poor, afflicted, suffering Ali Hafed fell a victim to the awful temptation to cast himself into the incoming tide. He sank beneath its foaming crest, never to rise again.
"Back home, the man who had purchased Ali Hafed's farm was one day letting his camel drink from the garden brook. As the camel splashed its nose into the shalow water of the clear stream, its owner noted a curious flash of light coming from the white sands of the stream. He pulled out a stone that had an eye of light reflecting all the hues of the rainbow. He took the stone into his house and laid it on the mantel. Some time later when the same old priest came to visit Ali Hafed's successor, he saw the light flashing from the mantel and told the owner that this stone was a diamond. Together they rushed out into the garden and stirred up the white sands with their fingers, and lo, there came up other beautiful gems even more valuable than the first.
" The above is said to be a historically true account of the discovery of the great Golconda diamond mine, the most magnificent diamond mine in history, even excelling the most magnificent Kimberly mine itself. The Kohinoor and the Orloff diamonds of the crown jewels of England and Russia came from this mine. At the very time that Ali Hafed was longing for diamonds, he was living on top of the greatest diamond mine in the world. If he had just dug in his own garden, instead of wretchedness, starvation, and suicidal death in a strange land, he would have literally had acres of diamonds. For every part of that old farm produced valuable gems which have since decorated the crowns of the greatest monarchs of the world.
" We feel very sorry for Ali Hafed. In our minds we can see him wandering homeless and friendless further and further away from the very thing he sought so ardently. He wanted diamonds more than anyhting else in the world, yet he left that very thing he wanted most and exchanged it for loneliness, starvation, and death in a faraway land.
" Dr. Conwell stirs up out interest and imagination with many other examples of this same principle in operation. It is probable that the main interest in Dr. Conwell's lecture was not the pathetic sight of Ali Hafed taking his leave of the very things that he wanted most. The greatest interest probab;y arose from the fact that the actions of Ali Hafed so much resemble the course that we ourselves so frequently take. A large percentage of our own population is continually rushing from one place to another seeking for things we never find. We stop for only a brief period and then we are on the move again. This constant unrest is caused by a strange inclination among us to think of success and happiness as lying in some distant country, to be found only under unusual circumstances. The grass usually looks so much greener on the other side of the fence that it draws our attention and our interest away from those more important things that lie right under our noses. We look for some great deeds to do in some faraway foreign land and we neglect our own acre of diamonds with all the possibilities that are just begging to be uncovered in our own back yard.
" This four million dollar lecture suggests that most of our opportunities are not found in the distance, but usually in the vicinity of our birth. In fact, opportunity may be found wherever one really digs for it and usually in no other place. Henry Ford found ares of diamonds by digging in his own tool shed. Thomas A. Edison found his ares of diamonds in the experiments of his own laboratory. The people of two thousand years ago believed that no good could come out of Nazareth, yet Jesus wet from the carpenter shop to become the Savior of the world. Despite these and many other outstanding examples, however, how futile it sometimes is to urge a person to start digging in his own home town and make good right where he is! The chances always seem so much better if we could cultivate the distant acres that lie beyond our reach.
" We sometimes feel that we would be great if only we could be elected to some important political office or by some other means have the power of exceptional accomplishment placed in our hands by someone else. The truth is that if we would dig a little deeper in our own back yards we would find some important, inspiring purpose for our own lives. It is a serious mistake to wait for some great deeds to do in the futurse when there are so many little deeds that need to be done in the present.
" In the early days of this country many people lost their lives in the gold rush across the Great American Desert on their way to California. The same thing happened in the Arctic wastes of the Yukon, while those who dies frequently had left great undeveloped treasures in their own home towns. Some of us never become aware of our greatest treasures. The most likely place to look for diamonds is under our own feet and within ourselves. In fact, God has implanted in every man the very things that he seeks. If you seek the kind of faith that moves mountains, look within yourself, for God has already implanted in your own heart the seeds of faith and power, and these are waiting only for you to make them grow. If you seek the courage that will make you one of the giants of your day, don't look in Barcelona or Paris or London, for it is already within yourself awaiting only your command. Every man has within himself a vein of greatness. He has only to learn to command the shaft that draws out the gold."
That is not the whole story from Sterling W. Sill but I just wanted to show you the important principle that this story teaches. So many times we set out in search of things, money, fame, recognition as well as other things but in the process we forget what we have and the acres of diamonds we each have inside and within our own homes. Our riches are our memories and the lessons we learn from life, our fame is the defeating of silent struggles and temptations that no one else is aware of besides heavenly father, the success and growth he sees in us, the generations we affect because of that growth, how grateful they will be. The recognition, the spirit and joy we receive from Heavenly Father when we remember what we have and work towards improving ourselves and what is most important, what will truly enrich our lives. We've got to dig a little deeper, dig and discover in ourselves what Heavenly Father knows is already there and has been all along. We don't have to travel far and wide or be the most successful to make great discoveries or inspire many people or even to change the world. We need only realize that to change the world we must "Be the change you (we) want to see in the world." To make great discoveries we must dig inside ourselves and to inspire others we need only do the above, live a life we would be proud to present to Heavenly Father one day. I know you will find acres of diamonds within yourselves that you never even knew about. I guess that's what Mama Ode was trying to teach Tiana and Navene in Princess and the Frog, what they really needed was eachother and once they had that everything else would come for them and it did. All we really need is Heavenly Father and to use what we have to bless and help others and make better ourselves.
When my dad told me this story I was going through a really hard time and all I could think about was the future and where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do and accomplish. With all this in mind the side effect of worry came along and i started to think was that I couldn't do it because I was me, because I wasn't this way or that way and I didn't have this or that but with time I realized that I had everything I needed, determination, courage, hope, it was all already inside me, I have a great life. I have a family who loves me, I have a home, an education, enough to eat, I have everything. I don't need to wait for the future to have a great life I can have a great life now, by helping and loving my family, helping others, working hard, choosing to be happy, and digging inside myself. Once I started digging inside myself I really was surprised to discover the things I didn't even know I had or was capable of, things that would have helped me so much and saved me pain and anxiety. What acres of diamonds do you have tucked away in your soul? What riches have you been denying yourself? What temptations could you easily combat and defeat with what you find? The possibilities are endless and they are just waiting for us to realize it. You are everything you want to be. If you are determined and hardworking you are successful. If you are kind and empathetic you are a helping hand to many. You are everything you want to be. These past two weeks I have been deciding to be happy despite hard things that come my way, I want to be happy so I decide to be happy and I am. No one is saying it is easy, I didn't say it is easy but it is worth it, it is worth it to take a look inside yourself and try. It is more than worth it, it is necessary for your happiness. Remeber the Lion King, the monkey is telling simba that his father is alive, simba finds out that his father is alive in him! If Heavenly Father is in us, if we have his spirit and his life that means, "I (We) can do all things through Christ which strengthens me (us)." If God can do anything and we have power through him, we too can literally do anything, through faith and using that light that is in ourselves. Have we like Simba forgotten him? Forgotten that we are his children and that through him anything and everything is possible? We can have everything through him. By realizing he is with us and in our souls, we realize our true potential and what really is inside of us. I hope that all of us find the courage and desire to realize that and take the time to dig a little deeper and find the acres of diamonds within ourselves. We can always come back to God, we can always improve and become more than we ever imagined. I love you all as my brothers and sisters and wish the best for you in your expeditions. Happy conference weekend! Enjoy!