It was hot. Not a cloud in the sky. Dust burst in small clouds from the ground with every falling step. A long line of travelers straggled in a slow crawling walk towards the searing horizon. Isaac licked his lips, tried to swallow, and spat grit out instead. There was a well here somewhere, he thought with almost panicked frustration. He remembered it from his boyhood, he remembered watching his father dig it. He remembered the smooth feel of wet dirt that came slinging out in clumps, thrown out of the dark hole when his father and servants finally hit water. It was here, and he had to find it. He must find it or they were all going to die. A baby wailed. The wagons creaked and lurched over the rough terrain. No one had the energy to talk. Even the cattle and the sheep were silent. He stopped and stared hard at the rocks in front of him. There was something about that configuration that seemed familiar. He ran, he stumbled through the pile, and yes, there is was, his father’s well! He blinked and stared at it stupidly. There it sat, a baking pile of rocks and sand. This was the love note from hostile Philistines. It was the kiss of death to fill a perfectly good well. It was evil. He grit his teeth so hard it felt like his head would split. Beside him, he felt the hot heat of bodies crowding around. Despair hit like a wall of fire sweeping through the group. He did not look at them, He said nothing. His fingers curled around one rough stone after the next, pulling them, throwing them, clawing them away. More hands joined the fight, the furious fight of survival. They would have water, it was their well, they would not accept defeat. And they did exactly that; for though the well could be stopped, the water could not.
Four times Genesis 26 records Isaac digging a well that was either found ruined, taken or vandalized by unfriendly neighbors. I would imagine the first time it was infuriating. I would imagine the second time it was discouraging. I imagine the third time his face had heavy lines of worry, and his eyes were dark and tired. Not the physical tired, but soul kind of tired. Tired of trying. Tired of looking. Tired of trying to survive. Tired of hoping. Tired of dealing with mean people. Tired of believing promises that never seemed to unfold. Tired of faith.
Somewhere between the third and the fourth time, I think something might have clicked for Isaac. He gave the new well a name that meant “open spaces”. I like to imagine that when he found those nasty neighbors had trashed up his well. Again. That a sharp glint of confidence crept into his eye that had never been there before. I can see his chin lift a little, his mouth twitch into the shadow of a challenging smile. I like to imagine that in all that digging, some kind of steel had crept into his soul that refused to give up on the God who had promised him a land for himself and his children. Somewhere under one of those rocks, he found a faith that earned him the standing ovation of the Hebrews 11 hall of heroes. It must have finally occurred to him that those hateful Philistines could chase him from one end of the country to the other, ruining his wells and spitting on God’s promises, and he and God would always win. Because you can stop up a well, but you can’t stop the water flow. You just keep moving, you dig again, you go deeper. Somewhere water is down there. It is a certainty. It is not faith in the well that sustains life, it is faith in the water.
I know of absolutely no season of life that is indefinitely sustainable. I posted a picture of my two oldest girls because they were those tiny little people only yesterday to me…but today we are discussing politics, cell phones, and boys. Things happen, relationships change, health is lost, people die, circumstances evolve in unpredictable ways. It is foolishness to the extreme to park ones self beside one small plot of life, and demand it remain the all sustaining grace of one’s entire existence. When, not if, that well becomes filled to the top and piled over with the rocks and ruin a broken world has to offer me, I can plant flowers around that well, cry about it, scream at it, or pray over it just as much as I like. I will still die a slow and painful death if I do not leave it. I will die from the inside out, not because I lacked dedication to the well, but because I lacked dedication to the water. This is not what God ever intended. He put the life into the water, not the well. The well is a means to an end. I must have Jesus Christ for the life of my soul. If I cannot get to Him in this place, than I will go to that place over there, and I will dig another well. I must be willing allow the scenery to change, in order to obtain the one thing that does not change. Scenery will not sustain me, Jesus will. The thing to do is not to fall in love with a well, but to fall in love with The Water.
John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.