Dig A Well by Larry W Peebles February 10, 2017 17.04
There are many things we take for granted. Clean water on demand at the hydrant is one of them. Many people in this world do not have that necessity. As a result, a very large percentage of the world’s diseases and infant deaths are related to the absence of clean water and sanitation.
I remember as a boy drinking water from my grandpa’s well on his farm. My grandpa’s father (my great grandfather) legally migrated to the U.S. from Germany, bought that farm, and lived and raised a family on it. He dug that well. My grandpa was born on that farm, lived his whole life there, and ultimately died there. I remember drinking the water from the well–it was cool and clear, and tasted sweet. I also remember the wooden bucket from the well, the hand pump, and the sound of my echo when I shouted down the well. There was a wash stand and bowl on the back porch of the house where the well water was used to wash up after chores on the farm. Grandma used the well water in cooking, and her washtub was filled from the well for washing clothes and bathing kids. At one point, Grandpa dug a new well, wired an electric pump, and piped the water into the house. He put a sink with running water in the kitchen, and built a bathroom in the house. Grandma eventually bought a washing machine. The water did not taste the same, but it was much more convenient to use. Life on that farm would have been impossible without water. In fact, all living things require water. Humans can only live about three days without water.
The U.S. based ministry I traveled with to India had helped sponsor the digging of two wells by the local ministry we had gone to serve. We were asked to attend the dedication of the two wells. The first was a location next to a highway which ran through a small town. The well was placed in proximity to where the highway crossed a river. The river provided a source of water during the rainy season, but could also be dry other times of the year. The well tapped into the deep water in the area. Given its location, it could be easily found and accessed by all who passed by. We were told there were 100 families who lived in the surrounding area outside the town who had no water supply at all. Although they would have to walk some distance, they now had a water supply. Many came to the well dedication, and we were showered with flower petals upon our arrival. There were no restrictions on the water usage. All religions, all sects, and all who were thirsty could use the well. We only asked that all would join together to keep the well protected from those who might sabotage it.
The second well was located in the interior of a small village that had no water source except a distant river. We arrived after dark to dedicate that well. There was no light. When we arrived and piled out of our vehicles in the dark, we saw candles being lit one by one. The people of the village had lined the path to the well, and each lit a candle and passed the fire to the person next to them. Great singing and shouting was accompanied by the beating of drums, and we walked the candle-lit path to the well. As we walked, the crowd fell in behind until all were gathered at the well. We were again showered by flowers. This village also had about one hundred families who for the first time had a reliable source for clean water. The whole experience was so humbling, as it was about appreciation for something we take for granted—clean water readily available.
Even as I write this article, ministry friends are digging a well in a small village near Emali in southeastern Kenya. After months of planning and fund raising, days of waiting for the arrival of the drilling rig, and hours of drilling, they hit an underground river that gushed water. They sent pictures of the dancing and rejoicing, with everyone laughing and getting wet. The most telling picture might be that of two girls from the village who will now be able to go to school instead of hauling water long distance every day for their families. Their lives, and those of the whole village, will be changed forever once they encountered their own source of life-giving water.
This is not an all-inclusive discussion, but here are four things water does:
- Water quenches thirst. Thirst is a protective body response originating in the brain that signals cells (and eventually organs) are starting to cry out for moisture to replenish the water lost in the functioning of the body. Thirst is a signal that something vital is missing. Without water for three to seven days, the organs of the body will begin to shut down, resulting in death. Jesus, by whom and for whom all things were created (Colossians 1:16) describes Himself as “living water” in John 4:10, and says in John 4:13-14—“Everyone who drinks this water [mere well water] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” [Emphasis mine.]
- Water refreshes. Water refreshes the cells of the body, as described above, but it also refreshes by applying to the skin. Warm water opens the pores of the skin, cold water closes the pores. Warm water might cause the muscles of the body to relax and bring sleep if that is the type of refreshing needed; cold water might force the body to come awake to generate needed heat, and that feeling of general alertness can be refreshing. Isaiah 44:3 says—“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessings on your descendants.” Jeremiah 31:25 says—“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Finally, Revelation 22:17 says—“The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come’, and let him who hears say ‘Come”. Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” The refreshing that the living water Jesus brings is free.
- Water cleanses. Water is the number one cleansing agent in the world. Think of how many things can be cleaned using only water. It literally washes away dirt and contaminants. Soaps and detergents used in conjunction with water might do a better job, clean faster, or leave a fragrant smell. However, when soap is not available, water alone will often do the job. Ezekiel 36: 25, 26 says—“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities, and from your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Paul writes in Ephesians 5: 25-27–“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
- Water provides power. Water seeks its own level. Specifically, it responds to the pull of gravity downhill to seek sea level. Water also carries weight, so depending on the volume, the movement toward sea level can generate considerable force or power. It has the power to save according to Acts 22:16—“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” It has the power to protect God’s children, or destroy His enemies. After God parted the Red Sea so His children could cross to escape the pursuing Egyptians, He instructed Moses to stretch out his hand so the Sea would flow back over the Egyptian chariots and horsemen. “Not one of them survived.” (Exodus 14: 21-28). Moses was quite familiar with the power of water to save, as he had been floated to safety as a child, protected from Pharaoh’s edict to kill the Hebrew male children. The same water that destroyed all mankind in Noah’s generation also saved Noah and his family, allowing the righteous to replenish the earth. Peter writes of the water that saved Noah in 1 Peter 3: 20, 21, and compares it to the water of baptism by saying “this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also-not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”
Jesus encourages us to provide water for the thirsty to drink, along with food, clothing and shelter to those who do not have it. But the supernatural living water He provides is as essential to our eternal life as the natural water we drink daily to sustain our life on this earth. Just as we can supply natural water for the thirsty to drink, Jesus also encourages us to believe that once we have received His living water, we can be a source of it, a provider, to those who need that spiritual and eternal benefit. John 7:38 says—“He that believes in me, as the scriptures have said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” How does one become that source of living water, that well unto salvation? One must receive it by faith, and look for it, just as one would look before digging a well. Before my great grandfather dug that well, and before my missionary friends dug in India and Kenya, they sought wisdom and advice on where to dig. So it is with living water. Jeremiah 29:13 says—“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” I encourage you to seek the Lord and become a well of living water. It is both life- changing and life- saving.