Thursday, March 10, 2011

Those Blessed Well-Diggers!

“Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee…Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well…” (Psalm 84:5-6).

The prerequisite for enjoying water from a well is someone having dug the well. And if you’re dying of thirst, with no strength to secure the precious liquid on your own, that individual is, quite literally, a lifesaver. Any valley can seem confining, lonely, and discouraging enough; but one that is dry and barren would make you feel like an inhabitant in Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones (37:1-2). And the man (or woman) who would take the time to dig a well in such a place is characterized by three things, to my way of thinking.

First, he or she would be a man or woman of faith who can see beyond the immediate need. It would be tempting to dig only deep enough to get water to quench one’s own thirst, and perhaps fill a container or two to take along with you, especially if you were weary from the journey so far. But to see by faith another time and another need, and to prepare for that contingency, is an indication of real maturity and foresight.

Second, people who dig wells are not afraid of hard work. We’re talking about dirt, sand, maybe even roots here. This kind of work leaves you with sore muscles and need for a good bath. And who knows how long it could take? This is not work for the casual laborer. It’s backbreaking, callous producing hard work that calls for a dedicated individual.

Third, it goes without saying, well diggers are thinking of other people. I suppose you could say that if someone planned on living nearby, a personal well would be important to have. But may we not assume that few would want to stay in this valley, and so its main purpose was just part of getting from “A” to “B?” If so, those, following behind would appreciate having a well there, ready and waiting to quench their thirst. And the man who took the time to leave more than just a sign reading, “Dig Here For Water,” would be somebody’s hero, don’t you think?

And, as a matter of fact, the man in Psalm eighty-four is one of mine

I won’t go into the background of this “valley of Baca,” except to say that the meaning is “the Valley of Tears.” It represents those times in our lives when sorrow makes us feel as though we are surrounded by mountains of despair, languishing in a dry and barren valley, with only tears to quench your thirst. But then to raise your head and find a beautiful well within reach, with sparkling water literally springing up from its depth, would indeed change your despair into delight. No wonder the Psalmist calls the one who left the well “blessed.” He would be gone now, because, as the verse says, valleys are places we pass through, not places of permanent residence; but he was one of those “blessed well diggers” who have faith to see the future, not afraid of hard work, and who care more for the well being of others than his own comfort.

We often hear it said that our valleys are times for learning and growing as Christians, but I think that’s a one-dimensional view. Maybe it’s not just about me and my personal growth and fellowship with the Lord. Maybe it’s about digging wells of testimony and triumph to quench the desperate thirst of those who will stumble into that same valley behind me. If that’s the case, I need to be asking myself, “Am I digging wells, or just scooping up handfuls of water for myself?”

O, Lord, make me one of those blessed well diggers!

Leave a Well in the Valley

To the valley you've been through, those around you must go too;

Down the rocky road you've traveled they will go.

If to those learning of your trial you lend the secret of your smile,

You will help them more than you can ever know.

Blessed is the man who has learned to understand,

And becomes a hand for God to those in need;

Yes, and all the tears he's shed, with God's help, become instead,

A precious balm that will heal the hearts that bleed.

Leave a well in the valley, the dark and lonesome valley;

Others have to walk that valley, too.

What a blessing when they find the well of joy you've left behind,

Leave a well in the valley you go through.

— Gordon Jenson

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