Finding a place at the well

We’re preparing for company and my son loves company.

He is a host extraordinaire.  At the first mention of upcoming visitors, he  cleans up his room and then grabs Clorox wipes,  the broom,  and wood polish and heads for the kitchen.

He’s five.

But he’s a five-year-old who loves to entertain guests, and he has mastered some basic essentials of hospitality:  create a clean space, set out games, and provide snacks.  What more could you need?

When I told him last  night that we’d be having company this weekend, I should have been prepared for an early morning wake-up from this boy who needed to  clean his room right this second.

Yes,  it’s 7:30 in the morning and we’re still getting kids ready for school and yes, mom would like some time with a cup of tea first.  But his room was messy and the company was imminent (as in arriving in the next 48 hours).  He does not want to  be unprepared for his guests.

There’s a beautiful moment in Scripture when Abraham shows a similar attentive hospitality. Genesis 18 says three strangers came by and that:

The LORD appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18:1 CSB).

Not just a guest, an unexpected divine guest.

I’d probably lock the door for a few minutes and toss dirty dishes into the oven, clean clothes back  into the dryer, and paper piles into closets before actually welcoming a surprise stranger.

But Abraham is so gracious,  so inviting.  He brings water for their feet and leads them to  a place of rest under the shade of a tree.  He asks Sarah to  bake bread,  prepares a meal , and then serves them a picnic feast of fine foods.

He makes the most of this moment with the Lord.  He is hospitable and attentive.  He is not rushed or stressed about all he isn’t getting done.

The Lord simply appeared.  And Abraham invited Him in.

What  needs to change in me so I can be more  hospitable to the Holy Spirit?  More attentive and considerate of His presence?  More responsive and inviting?  More willing to  sit and fellowship with Him?

I consider the challenge of this because sometimes you sit down for a quiet time, and the Lord feels….quiet.  You read.  You pray.  You copy down the verse.   And then you are done.

But other days you sit down for some time with Jesus and He invites you to linger because His presence is so strong. So you have to choose.  Do we rush Him along or settle in at His  feet?

Abraham chose to welcome the visitor.

His son Isaac did even more.

Yes, Abraham had set up camp and the LORD came to Him, arriving without invitation or planning or pursuit on Abraham’s part

But Isaac purposely set out to dwell in the Lord’s presence, making not just a one-time visit, but a long-term decision to abide..

Genesis says:

After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi (Genesis 25:11 ESV).

Beer-lahai-roi–that ‘s “the well of him that liveth and seeth me.”  That’s where God called out to  Hagar in the wilderness and He rescued her son by providing this same well to  quench Ishmael’s thirst.  Hagar called Him the “God who sees me” and the “One who looks after me. “Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi” (Genesis 16:14 ESV).

Hagar’s time there was temporary, but  Spurgeon writes:

“Isaac….settled there and made the well of the living and all-seeing God his constant source of supply….Let us too learn to live in the presence of the living God….Happy is the person who lives at the well, with abundant and constant supplies near at hand” (Morning and Evening).

Of all the places Isaac could have  brought his family and made his home, he chooses this holy place, this sacred site, and he settles in.

Could this be me?

Could I be like Abraham, ready, yielded, excited even by the  Lord’s visits?  Am I prepared? Am I ready to clean rooms,  make meals, and rest under a shade tree all in God’s presence simply because He showed up and I want t o be with Him?

But could I also be like Isaac, seeking out this same presence day by day?   Choosing to settle near the well of God’s supply, dwelling with Him and in Him, knowing that this well of His presence will not and will never run dry?

And that’s the best part.  On days when Isaac felt  weary, dry, worn out, stretched thin, stressed, or just had the blahs, he could go  to  the well and drink deeply from the well, dipping the cool  water over  and over if needed, all because he lived day in and day out by the well of His presence.

Water Without a Bucket

Every Thursday, I sit for 1-1/2 hours at the ballet studio while two of my daughters take lessons.  At first, I was totally convinced this would be a disaster for my 1-1/2 year-old daughter, who gets to tag along for the ride.  There really isn’t that much in that little waiting room to hold her attention and keep us both from going crazy.

But, there is one thoroughly exciting thing in that ballet studio waiting room that has saved the day — the water cooler.

I can’t explain why this water cooler amazes my daughter, but it does.  And, it’s not just her.  The little girls in their leotards and tights seem to think that nothing is so wonderful as water from this water cooler.  Clearly, it’s better than Mommy’s bottled water or the water we can get at home.  The ballet water is special and I feel sorry for the ballet studio and all the money they have to invest in supplying the plastic cups these girls go through every week.

It reminds me of the woman at the well in John 4:1-26.   There is something about this Samaritan woman’s conversation with Jesus that captures my heart.   She’s just so practical.

Jesus says to her: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (verse 10, NIV).

And this precious woman looks up at Jesus and says, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?” (verse 11, NIV).  To rephrase—-“Mister, I don’t know how you think you could give me any ‘living water’—you don’t even have a bucket!”

I’ve done that to God.  He’s offered to give me provision, healing, comfort, direction and peace and I’ve turned to Him and said, “God, what You offer sounds so great, but it’s impossible.  You don’t even have a bucket!”

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest wrote, “My misgivings arise from the fact that I search within to find how He will do what He says .”  We think God is confined to what we have to offer and what we are capable of doing in this practical, physical, fleshly reality of ours.  We forget that God is bigger than that.

It reminds me of the passage from yesterday’s post, when the disciples faced the storm out on the sea in Mark 6:45-52.   In the middle of this tempest, Jesus “saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them” (NIV).  These were expert fisherman,who had probably faced many storms on the sea.   They knew what to do in a storm and they spent hours employing all their skill and expertise, trying to stay alive.

But, the storm was too much for them. 

We say all the time as Christians—“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  Do you know that isn’t in Scripture?  It’s a misquote of  “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).

I think God gives us more than we can handle all the time.  I know He does for me!  Whether it’s a big life crisis or just my kids fighting for the 20th time in one morning, it’s too much for me.  I can use all my expertise and ability to try to rescue me from a storm of circumstances, but the bottom line is I am not enough.

The Psalmist wrote, “And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?  My only hope is in You” (Psalm 39:7, NLT). Don’t place your hope in what you have or who you are.  Don’t look at your circumstances and discount God’s ability to care for you in the midst of them.  He is God.  He doesn’t need a bucket to give you living water.  He isn’t confined by the expertise and ability of professional fishermen to save you from life’s storms.

Oswald Chambers also wrote, “We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is almighty. . . .”  Place your hope to survive the daily annoyances and the huge life storms in the Almighty God and leave it to Him to figure out how to save you.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King