Thursday, December 1, 2011

Digging Old Wells

“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.”
Psalm 42:1 (KJV)

I was feeling tired and drained and very lean in my soul.  I would try to pray, but it seemed the heavens were brass.  I would pick up my Bible seeking inspiration, only to find I couldn’t focus or glean anything beneficial.  Time after time, the soul within me would feel exceedingly thirsty for God, but I just couldn’t seem to feel His presence.  Not at all.  In prayer one day, I cried, “Lord, are you angry with me?”  There just seemed to be such a distance between us; an impenetrable wall that had somehow been erected. 

I began to search my life, very honestly, and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember doing anything that would cause this breach.  I hated feeling this space between me and God, and I missed the continual flow of encouragement I was accustomed to receiving during my time with Him.  Then, gently He began to allow me to discover the problem.  His precious Spirit sweetly took me to Genesis 26:1-19 in my Bible one day, and I reread the story of the time Isaac moved near Abimelech in the land of the Philistines.  God blessed him there…abundantly.  The Lord increased his goods to the point that the Philistines who lived around him became jealous and wanted him to leave.  So, he moved a distance away, and he pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar. 

In Gerar, he found some wells that had been dug by his father, Abraham’s servants years before.  At one time, they had provided cool, refreshing water for his father, his family, and their livestock.  But, at some point, after Abraham’s death, the Philistines had come along and filled the wells with dirt, stifling the flow and purpose of the refreshing water beneath.  When Isaac discovered the wells and what had been done to them, verses 18 & 19 say that he “digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father…and he called them their names after the names by which his father had called them…. And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.”  This term “springing water” literally means “living water”! 

Imagine the joy of seeing the wells that were once hindered and clogged by the dirt that was poured into them, once again springing up with thirst-quenching, invigorating water!  Water that sustains life and hydration.  Water that quenches thirst like nothing else ever will.  It must have filled Isaac’s heart with unspeakable joy to find these wells, and then be able to cleanse them of obstructions and make them usable again.

As I read this wonderful story, God began to open my eyes to the reason for my spiritual dryness.  He showed me that somewhere along the line I had allowed the enemy to come along and fill up my spiritual wells….with hurt, resentment, indifference, offense, discouragement, neglect, and a host of other things.  At the time, I hadn’t realized what was happening, and it was true, there was valid reason for my emotions.  But, slowly, little by little, the “dirt” kept coming, and eventually, the life-sustaining flow of living water had been stopped up and stifled in my soul.  The joy was gone, and I was terribly thirsty.

I prayed the prayer from today’s passage.  I cried out to God and told Him how thirsty I was for Him…just like a thirsty deer that after running for hours, chased by a relentless hunter, reaches a refreshing water brook, and thirstily laps it up.  My soul needed refreshment!  It was a dry, parched ground within me that was dying from lack of water.  So, I began to dig.

Shovelful by shovelful, I dug out the things that I identified satan had used to stop up my spiritual well.  I let go of the hurt, as I chose to forgive those who have wronged me.  I decided resentment just wasn’t worth the effort it took to keep around, so I dug it out and tossed it on the growing pile beside my well.  I cringed as I saw how indifferent I had become, so I tore down the wall of defense I had built and watched it shatter on to the top of the “dirt”.  I dug out the offenses that have been inflicted, and I handed them to my Lord, as He gently reminded me of the unjust way He was treated.  As I dug, I saw a tiny trickle of water begin to make its way to the top of the dirt-pile that was still in my well.  Water!  Oh the welcome sight it was!  But, there was still more work to do.

My discouragement began to disappear as I dug it out bit by bit…the hope that arose within me at the tiny sighting of water was taking its place.  The care and attention I was giving my well began to dispel all of my past neglect as I continued to dig.  Soon, the well was clear again…cleansed from all of the “stuff” I had allowed satan to come along and pile into it.  As the last bit of dirt was removed and flung to the top of the pile, a sudden burst of fresh, clean, life-giving water forced its way from the bottom of my now perfectly empty well!  My joy was back, and I couldn’t have been happier.  I vowed to guard my well more attentively and never to allow this to happen again.  The work it took for me to “re-dig” was just too strenuous.  From now on, I intend to keep it clear and free of obstruction at all times, by the grace of God.

How sweet to commune with the God of Heaven unhindered!  How good and refreshing the living water in the soul of one who is redeemed!  Remember the woman at the well?  She came to fill her water pots with physical water.  Jesus told her He would give her living water, and she would never thirst (spiritually) again!  Her whole life changed during that experience. 

There are many things that satan will use to try to cut off our lifeline to God.  Unfortunately, he is well aware that without keeping our souls hydrated, we will wither up on the vine and die, spiritually.  So, you can be sure, he will use anything he can to throw into our well and keep us from thriving and enjoying our salvation.  Sometimes, it is worldly “fillers”…you know, the things that give you a brief, temporary sense of satisfaction, but then leave you empty and thirsty immediately after.  Over time, using these worldly means of appeasement will only fill our wells with dirt and leave us feeling lean and unfulfilled in our souls. 

A word of warning, well-digging is hard work…it is not for the faint of heart.  It will require dedication and perseverance and the will to keep going until every bit of satan’s “dirt” is removed.  And you may not like what you see as things come to the surface.  But the end result will bring literally showers of blessing.

So, how about it?  Why not revisit the old wells?  The ones you used to go to for spiritual sustenance?  The ones satan has filled with detrimental things and substitutes?  Remember the days when you were more spiritually-hydrated and nourished than you are right now?  There is no reason for you to stay thirsty.  Jesus is still the eternal, artesian well of living water, and He has a never-ending supply.  All we need to do is re-dig and get rid of the dirt.    

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