For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dig Another Well

One of my undergraduate majors was in communication, and I actually spent several years in the radio biz. In addition to my four year experience working with our college radio station, I worked briefly for Christian stations in both Kansas City and Ft. Worth, Texas. I was an intern copywriter for the main news station in Kansas City. All of those were good experiences.

But one radio experience wasn’t all that great. While doing mission work in North Dakota, when the financial support started to dry up, I started looking for another job to supplement our income. Since my only real education and experience outside the church was in radio, that was one of the first things I looked into. And in Rugby, North Dakota, there was only one radio station: KZZJ. Not bad, except that it was a country music station.

Now, before going any further, please don’t be insulted if you happen to like country music. It’s just a matter of personal taste and personal preference. And my personal taste and personal preference just happens to be NOT country music.

In fact, I have a rather strong aversion to it. It gives me a headache. Again, just my personal taste, and if you disagree, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But for me, to sit there for five hours at a time playing country music and being the announcer who has to sound like he’s enjoying it was like a waking nightmare. I had all the boot scootin’ boogie I could take.

But even in that bad experience, there are positives. In addition to the fact that it helped out with that extra income, I actually did come across a song or to that weren’t all that bad. One guy in particular, Paul Overstreet, had a whole album full of songs that were taken from stories in Scripture. And the one song that sticks out in my mind was called, Dig Another Well.

It’s based on the story in Genesis 26, where Isaac’s “neighbors” continue stealing all the wells he digs, and Isaac responds by simply moving on a digging another well. Actually, these were wells dug by his father Abraham, but his enemies had filled them all in with dirt, and Isaac was re-opening them, only to have them stolen away.

The song talks about the devil thwarting our efforts—stopping up our wells—and says,
When I go out for my morning drink, a
nd get a dipper full of dirt, my heart does sink,
but I think of old Ike and I have to grin—
God blessed me once and He can do it again.

The chorus then says:
When the rains don’t fall and the crops all fail
When the cow ain’t puttin’ any milk in the pail
Don’t sit around waitin’ for a check in the mail
You gotta pick up your shovel and dig another well

Believe it or not, in spite of my feelings about country music, that song has come back to me on more than one occasion. It reminds me of this episode in Isaac’s life and the encouragement that we find there. Like those nuggets of gold even in the bad old memories, this story reminds me of the encouragement we can find even in the midst of our struggles: God blessed me once and He can do it again.

Pick up your shovel and dig another well. Perseverance. Don’t let circumstances overwhelm you, just keep at it. Keep doing what you know God has called you to do. That song and Isaac’s story remind of several truths:

To begin with, it reminds me that WE WILL FACE OPPOSITION. This is a theme that runs throughout the text of Scripture and throughout the history of the church. God’s people will face opposition in this world. Face it, get used to it, deal with it.

Throughout the history of God’s people there have been very few times of peace, and those have all been relatively short. The Kingdom of God is constantly at war. We are at war with the devil. We are at war with the sinful nature. We are at war with a world system that is opposed to God and the things of God. And we’re foolish to think that our life will just sail along perfectly with no trouble, no trials, no temptations.

In spite of that WE NEED TO PERSEVERE. Isaac showed by his very life both patience and perseverance; and we ought to show the same. In that great passage in Ephesians 6 where we are told to put on the armor of God, Paul concludes that wonderful encouragement with an admonition to pray and to keep on praying. He says to pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance.” Keep alert with all perseverance.

Be ready and keep at it. There is nothing, there is no one who should dissuade us from continuing to give our selves earnestly to God in obedience. That doesn’t mean we don’t get discouraged at times, or even frustrated. It just means that in spite of it, we pick up our shovel, and dig another well.

And the reason we can do that is because we know GOD WILL BE FAITHFUL. Isaac persevered because He knew God was faithful to His promises. His promises are firm. If you read the verses on either side of this story in Genesis, both before and after this time in Isaac’s life, God reminds him of the promise. It’s like God is saying, “regardless of what circumstance you find yourself in, Isaac, remember these promises.”

Likewise, God continually reminds us of His promises. Over and over He says I will never leave you nor forsake you. He says I will strengthen you by My mighty hand. He says I will lead you and guide you in the way you should go. And over and over again, God shows Himself faithful to those promises.

So persevere. Opposition will come, but persevere. I don’t know what trials might be in your life right now. They may be physical trials that are threatening to discourage your faith, or financial trials that are a distraction to your faith, or even spiritual trials that are seeking to undermine your faith. Whatever it is, I simply want to encourage you to persevere because God is faithful. It may feel like having you well stolen or filled in for the umpteenth time. But don’t give in. Pick up your shovel and dig another well. God is faithful.

Now, for those who don’t share my aversion to country music, you may enjoy listening to the song that reminds me of all this.


Gregg said...

Love the song, love the truth being told and love country music.

Scott said...

Amen, Amen, and Oh My!