Digging a Well, I understand, is really hard manual work and the deeper the Well, the harder the work. Digging out all the top soil and compacted earth and if the land is particularly dry, getting through the first foot is as hard as digging through the harder ground deeper down. Once the hole is dug and it is hooked up to the water supply it is necessary to ensure the Well does not collapse and general maintenance to keep it clear of rubble follows, together with ensuring the water supply does not dry up or become contaminated. A lot of hard work. But if you want clean water you probably have to put the work in.
We read in the Old Testament that wells used to be dug and protected, sometimes filled in by enemies and years later re-dug. In more recent times friends of mine dug a well in Albania in the middle of a hot summer and attached a pump and for a few years it supplied relatively useable water. Once a water supply was provided through pipes the well was pretty much disguarded and used only rarely in emergencies. I wonder if we get so used to water coming through pipes,with little effort, that we rarely go digging for fresh water. Perhaps the difference between Manna in the desert and living off the produce of the land in the Promised land...
Before Christmas I was thinking about my own spiritual Well and if it had been filled in over time, large bolders of disappointment were certainly present and Jesus did a great job of demolishing them. He is the perfect soul restorer. Hard work at maintaining a Well I believe is not striving to sort out the Well myself but to go to the originator and ask him to sort it out whilst I rest in him. It is a hard choice to accept I can do nothing and he can do everything.
Today I was pondering corporate Wells such as the local church and how we want to dig Wells. I am reminded of Bill Johnson talking about the inconvenience of having fresh water and how some of his congregation were having to park their cars a few blocks away because those coming to drink from their Well were so desperate for water, some having travelled thousands of miles, were in the parking spaces near to the church. Bill said one of the keys to them was hospitality and getting over the inconvenience. I think that’s great. I don’t like being inconvenienced and don’t think I’m alone otherwise the word wouldn’t exist but I am willing to be inconvenienced more if it is because there is fresh water and people want to drink from it.
I am also reminded of a story Godfrey tells about a place where they don’t have fences to keep the livestock in and the reason being that once you have dug a Well you don’t need a fence as the livestock will always return to the Well and he encourages us to be well diggers not fence builders.
I was talking to Phil this morning about conferences and events that we travel to or put on ourselves and wondered whether we travel to other places to get soaked up in order to return to somewhere that is a bit dry. But if there is no Well at home the water soon runs dry and nothing really changes, so off to another conference we go. So the answer would be to ensure there is a Well at home, personally and corporately. As far as putting on a conference Phil said that’s like the tanker coming in with a load of fresh water and tipping it into the Well and sometimes we want to keep all the fresh water for ourselves so consider putting up a fence.
I was thinking about Rebekah in Genesis 24 and her reaction to a stranger turning up at her town’s Well. She gets him a drink and then does the same for his camels, she didn’t seem to resent any of the extra work and displayed wonderful hospitality. Her story would have been completely different if she had dismissed the steward. I have no doubt that God’s story would have continued but with another wife for Isaac.
So I will try to display hospitality rather than annoyance over inconvenience and be very thankful that there is a Well that people want to come and drink from.