I didn’t “worship” this morning. Yes, I went to church, but I didn’t “worship.” The band played well and the singers sounded great, but I didn’t “worship.” There was a very peaceful spirit in the air, but I didn’t “worship.” In fact, I didn’t even sing along. I didn’t even close my eyes. In times past, I would have been deeply troubled by this. I would have condemned myself. I would have spent the entire time mentally beating myself up for my refusal to participate and my stubborn rebellion to get involved . . . but not this morning. This morning I just stood there. I just stood there while all around me people were singing and raising their hands. I just stood there while the leader was urging us to sing. I just stood there listening. I just stood there looking at those around me who were pouring out their hearts. I just stood there . . . in peace. I stood there in peace overcome with gratitude. I stood there in gratitude while the still small voice whispered these three words . . . redig the wells.
The words have stuck in my head all day and I faintly remembered a story from the Old Testament about wells being redug that had been clogged by an enemy. Here’s the story from Genesis 26:17-22:
So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down. He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them.Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”
Isaac was forced by Abimelech to leave the country they had shared together and so Isaac moved and settled down in Gerar Valley where the wells of his father had been clogged up and filled in by the Philistines. To have water, he had his servants redig those wells. It took three attempts before they redug a well which did not cause an issue of ownership with the inhabitants of the land. Due to these ownership disputes, the first two wells were named “argument” and “hostility” respectively, and Isaac’s servants dug a third time. This third well was named “open space”.
What does a centuries old story about guys in a story redigging wells have to with me?
My journey as a recovering churchboy began four years ago. (See “Why write a blog and what’s up with the title?”) Around two years ago, unknown to me, I made the decision to clog up my own wells. I set out with the mindset that it was quite possible that everything I had always been taught and everything I had ever participated in could have possibly been wrong and been nothing more than mere acts and behaviors performed out of obligation and living out of fear of not pleasing God. It was around this time, two years ago, that I was learning what it was to walk with the knowledge that I didn’t have to please God because Jesus had pleased him on my behalf (Perfect Imperfection). Because of this, I was rejecting anything I saw as religious and tradition. (The problem with this line of thinking is, just like religious activities, you can take it to extreme as well.) With this rejection, I clogged the well of friendship and relationship. We made the decision that we would attend church simply for the kids. We didn’t want to get know anyone. We would be friendly and cordial to those who greeted us, but nothing more. We’ll shake your hand and smile on our way to our seat or headed to the car after service, but don’t stop us to talk because we don’t want any part of it. Well of friendship clogged. It was also during this time, that I clogged the well of music. I had been a part of formal music in a church service capacity for the better part of 20 years and I was determined that I would not make any commitment to any sort of musical obligation for a long time. The trouble with this is I stopped all music. The piano in the living room accumulated dust. The piano in the dining room never got touched. Well of music clogged.
Over the last few months, we’ve began developing a special relationship with a family that has walked with us through a trying time and at the same time have reached out to us for support for an issue they were dealing with. It’s a relationship that, to be honest, neither family expected or were even quite sure we wanted to pursue. Also during this time, I’ve found a whole community of people online who, although we’ve talked very little one on one, have provided encouragement with the stories of their own journeys. Three days ago, our family was honored to be a part of a coffee-house gathering where a couple of church members played and sang. It was an intimate setting with a handful of friendly faces and folks we see normally only on a once week basis. The strange thing is the night was something we actively decided to be a part of which is a place I didn’t know if we would ever be at again. Well of friendship being redug. This very event then caused another well to be redug. For the first time in many months, I played piano yesterday. I didn’t just play one song and get off the bench. I played, and played, and played. I played songs I had written, some as many as twenty years or so ago. I played songs I didn’t think I would ever play again. Songs that I thought were too simplistic and had no depth. The churchboy in me shunned those songs thinking they had no spiritual value. As I played them, I realized the simplicity of those songs is exactly how they should be. I enjoyed myself as I sat and played and sang along to myself. Music was fun again. Well of music being redug.
So, no I didn’t “worship” this morning – I didn’t sing or raise my hands or close my eyes – but I worshipped. I worshipped as I stood there as my heart filled with overflowing gratitude realizing I was feeling life flowing in places I didn’t even know had dried up and been clogged. It was at the moment that I heard the whisper “redig the wells” and I knew the Holy Spirit was at work in all of this. I’m not sure what all this means as the wells begin to flow again, but the beauty of it is I don’t have to be concerned with the outcome. I just have to let them flow.
Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him.) — John 7:37-39
It’s my prayer that as these wells flow again that they would flow into the “open space” and discover as Isaac found centuries ago, “The Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”