With apologies for a truly horrific pun of a title…
Genesis 26:17-33 (CEV)
17 Isaac left and settled in Gerar Valley, 18 where he cleaned out those wells that the Philistines had stopped up. Isaac also gave each of the wells the same name that Abraham had given to them. 19 While his servants were digging in the valley, they found a spring-fed well. 20 But the shepherds of Gerar Valley quarreled with Isaac’s shepherds and claimed the water belonged to them. So the well was named “Quarrel,” because they had quarreled with Isaac.
21 Isaac’s servants dug another well, and the shepherds also quarreled about it. So that well was named “Jealous.” 22 Finally, they dug one more well. There was no quarreling this time, and the well was named “Lots of Room,” because the Lord had given them room and would make them very successful.
23 Isaac went on to Beersheba, 24 where the Lord appeared to him that night and told him, “Don’t be afraid! I am the God who was worshiped by your father Abraham, my servant. I will be with you and bless you, and because of Abraham I will give you many descendants.” 25 Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. Then he set up camp, and his servants started digging a well.
26 Meanwhile, Abimelech had left Gerar and was taking his advisor Ahuzzath and his army commander Phicol to see Isaac. 27 When they arrived, Isaac asked, “Why are you here? Didn’t you send me away because you hated me?”
28 They answered, “We now know for certain that the Lord is with you, and we have decided there needs to be a peace treaty between you and us. So let’s make a solemn agreement 29 not to harm each other. Remember, we have never hurt you, and when we sent you away, we let you go in peace. The Lord has truly blessed you.”
30 Isaac gave a big feast for them, and everyone ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning Isaac and the others made a solemn agreement, then he let them go in peace.
32 Later that same day Isaac’s servants came and said, “We’ve struck water!” 33 So Isaac named the well Shibah, and the town is still called Beersheba.
And so the journey continues. Isaac takes up the journeying after the death of his father, Abraham as he had become by then. Still moving, still following God.
But moving on meant fitting in with new people, sharing their resources. It appears that even if you bring help, you’re not always welcome. I was interested in Maggi’s point that the Philistines themselves were probably ‘incomers’ too (p48), so maybe they should have been more welcoming, or maybe they thought they had even more to lose because of it.
This is one element of journeying that is hard. You arrive ready, in fact needing, to make new friends and to find a place to fit in. But in the place you come to, people already have friends, the jobs are all taken. It can be hard to slip in and find your place.
But new people bring something valuable. New perspective, new skills, fresh ideas. That can be frightening to those who are already there. Will I not be needed any more? But in God’s ways there is “lots of room”. So, do we welcome new people? Do we ‘let them in’, share their skills, their discoveries, ideas that may widen our horizon and enrich our journey? Or are we territorial, jealous and angry?
For our journey is not a solitary one. There are companions on the way and people we encounter in the places we come to. God has been there before us, and will be there when we move on, as he is with those who arrive in our valley. We cannot claim anything as “ours”. It is God’s and we are invited to share with him and with others.
At the end, an agreement is made,
So let’s make a solemn agreement not to harm each other
That’s not a bad agreement to live by 🙂 Not just in terms of physical harm, but emotional and spiritual too. Letting others in, welcoming what they have to share, accepting their gifts, allowing them to show us more of God – unstopping the wells that others have blocked up…
As Maggi points out, there is a skill, and dare I say it, a ministry, in
He didn’t pick a fight with the surround culture, but neither did he allow it to subsume him. he continued to dig in all the places his father had taught him. (p49)
She also shares some more important lessons for the church from this passage.
Thank you Lord,
for the people
along the way.
Those who have so much
to teach me,
to show me,
to enrich my life,
to open up the stopped up places.
Those who I can share with,
and live in peace with.
Thank you that you are
the God of
‘Lots of Room’.
Room for us all,
room for all.
This year, several of us are reading Beginnings and Endings by Maggi Dawn and joining together to comment on it. Do join us at the Adventbookclub Facebook page, follow #adventbookclub on Twitter or comment below. If you are also reading and blogging on this book, let me know and I will link to your blog.