Friday, January 25, 2008

Wells: Old and New

“And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father called them. And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.” (Gen. 26:18-19)

After his death, the wells that Abraham’s servants had dug for him were stopped up again by the Philistines. Verse 15 says that these enemies of God had “filled them with dirt.” In other words, the pure, clean water had been contaminated by the dirt of this world.

When Isaac, Abraham’s son, came to these wells, he immediately set about re-digging them. He did not consider them old and outdated, nor did he fear that his own individuality would be jeopardized if he reopened them. The young man was wise enough to know that water is too important a commodity to risk for the sake of pride. He needed that water, and if God chose to supply it through his own father, he would die of thirst if he rejected it.

Abraham had already given names to the wells. What would have been the harm if Isaac had chosen to give them different names? A well is a well and water is water, however you choose to identify them. But, no; Isaac did not need to disassociate himself from his father in order to appear independent.

It is not surprising then that after Isaac re-dug and found sustenance from the wells of his father, he found his own (v.19), with not just water, but “springing water.”

Sometimes young people are so obsessed with blazing their own trails that they start out without even a compass. No wonder they often lose their way. Fortunately, some are able to retrace their steps, re-dig some old wells, if you will, and experience again what it is to drink cool, clear, pure water—living water.

We search the world for truth; we cull
The good, the pure, the beautiful,
From graven stone and written scroll,
And all old flower-fields of the soul;
And, weary seekers of the best,
We come back laden from the quest,
To find that all the sages said,
Was in the Book our mother’s read.

John Greenleaf Whittier

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