I was reading Genesis 26 for my morning devotions. There we find Isaac, the only son of Abrham and Sarah, redigging the old wells of his father (which had been filled in by their enemies). He renamed them the same names as his father had given to them. But as he traveled, he discovered that he had to dig new wells of his own. Near the end of that chapter one of his servants comes to him shouting, “We have found water!” Another successful new well.
I am touched by this story in so many ways. For one thing, I, too, have greatly benefited from the old wells dug by my fathers and mothers and persons before me. Because of their hard work, their faith, their sacrifices, their thinking not just of themselves but of me and future generations, I have not gone thirsty. I have found in so many ways water for my physical and spiritual life.
Think back over your own life for a moment this morning. Where are the old wells to which you have often stopped and found life giving water? How have the efforts of others blessed and continue to bless you?
Isaac had to re-dig some of those old wells. Maybe we do, too. We do that by valuing the past, giving thanks for those who have come before us, celebrating them and cherishing also the values and the teachings they passed along. We keep those wells, those things alive and accessible by doing all of these things.
But another thought comes to mind. Isaac did not just take from the old wells, thinking only of himself. By necessity, he dug new ones in new places, not just for himself, but for all who were with him and followed him.
How might I/we dig some new wells? How might we leave for others resources that will phsycially and spiritually refresh and renew them? How might our children find these wells, keep them clean, re-dig them, too, should they become filled? Would they find in us, in our lives, in our legacy that which they would so value and that would encourage them to dig their own wells?
I remember reading about this water pump in the wilderness. It had a sign on it that directed the thirsty to a jar of water buried beneath a rock just behind the pump. But the sign said in bold letters, “Use this to prime the pump. But before you drink, refill the jar and leave it for the next thirsty soul.”
Today, O Lord, we remember and give you thanks for those before us, who primed the pump, who left jars of water and often deep and refreshing wells from which we have often drank. We honor them and you for giving them to us. Now we ask that you keep us as faithful as they. Let us think first not of ourselves but those around us and those to follow us. Let us leave many jars of water and new wells for them. Amen.