well-digging: reclaiming old territory

Several years ago, I was a guest poster on a site to encourage women in their faith journeys, especially during the exhausting/exhilarating (Exhilarausting??) years of parenting young kids. Recently, I found a two-parter I’d written about finding freedom and motivation to run after God-given dreams. As I prepare to launch my book New Woman, New Clothes, I find it pretty cool that I was already exploring concepts of dealing with the past, believing in God’s promises, and moving ahead with purpose. Come to think of it, I wasn’t so much exploring them as becoming brave enough to LIVE them. Thank God I took my own advice! Anyway, dig in with me in this series called Well-Digging. Then, feel free to comment on the “old wells” you’ve had to revisit as you’ve pursued new dreams.

When I was a child, I sang all the time. Didn’t matter where I was or even what the song was—many times I made them up. If I wanted to sing some made-up song from the top of some old crab apple tree, I just climbed up there and did it. With abandon.

Do you remember that feeling of freedom? Of possibility? Of running down a hill so fast your heart pounded in your throat and even your voice was left behind in a trail of giggles? 

Or maybe you don’t. Maybe life has been a steady stream of “you can’t and you won’t” until you feel whatever joy is out there will never make its way into your heart.

But whether we lost that feeling of promise somewhere along the way or maybe never really had it, you and I both want to know deep down that there is something more than just plodding through our days. Somewhere there has to be a reservoir of life, hope, and freedom.

Genesis 26 recounts Isaac’s search for fresh water, and I can’t help but see parallels to my own life. God called Isaac back to the land He promised his dad, Abraham. Interestingly, even with God at his back, Isaac made a false start: he repeated almost identically Dad’s mistake of pretending his wife was just his sister in order to save his own (cowardly) neck. No one was fooled for long, but they were not real happy about being tricked—sometimes “like father, like son” isn’t a positive, and sometimes overcoming a legacy of failure is as hard as embracing a legacy of faith.

Afterwards, though, he did spectacularly well with lots of flocks and crops. His success ignited the envy of the Philistines, and out of spite, the Philistines filled up all of his father’s old wells with dirt. It’s as if the enemy was filling in the very “footprints” of Abraham where he possessed the Promised Land by faith. And Isaac, in the face of opposition, had a choice not unlike you and I do.

Here’s the deal. Nothing brings us full-circle like becoming mothers. Suddenly we are walking in the footprints of our parents. If they were great parents, we find big shoes to fill. If they were not so great, we desperately try not to fall into the pits, instead of wells, they sometimes dug. Regardless, we are back in old territory where we must choose to make a new life and look for life-sustaining water.

In fact, I’ve found it’s impossible to really start anything new without first dealing with what’s already there. For Isaac, it was the wells his father dug and that were now systematically being plugged up by the Philistines. The king even told him he’d be better off not confronting the problem: “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.” (26:16) And so Isaac moved to another section in the same country, perhaps hoping to keep the peace, and just as before, “Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham.” Gen 26:18a

But there comes a time when keeping the peace isn’t enough and running away isn’t an option. Even in the new area, Isaac again came into constant contention over his inheritance. And it WAS his inheritance. God had not only promised this land to Abraham but also to Isaac (Gen 26:2-6); however, Isaac had to choose to keep acting on that belief.

Sometimes we, too, have to go back to survey and reclaim old territory and even though it already is our promised inheritance. That dream from our youth. That first glimpse of God’s plan for our lives. That legacy of faith, no matter how large or small, that our parents left us. There is a need for perseverance in the midst of contention while this is happening, the kind of perseverance that says, “I will hold fast to what God began in me and my family.”DSC02258

Sometimes we also have to deal with dirt in our wells, whether it’s a sense of failure, a past of neglect or abuse, or just the daily grind causing resentment because we thought things would be different. We cannot run away but instead must let those things come into His light for healing and release.

And sometimes, after we’ve dealt with the past and moved past the dirt, we find something new.  We move on to dig completely new wells. More on that in the next post.

Lord, You are the God of my forefathers, but You are also my God and my Savior. You swore to be a friend to Abraham and his descendants forever and that includes me, his spiritual child in the faith. You have shown me that I am Your friend—not just Your servant, but Your friend. Therefore, I have access to the mind of Christ and the plans You have made for me. I praise you, O Holy One, and I trust you during this season of well-digging.

(Reposted from original site with permission.)

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