Certainly, it doesn't take a thousand-mile stare or even a second glance to discern the tumultuous times in which we live. On countless fronts and in many ways, trouble and turbulence has risen.
Lives have changed. Jobs have been lost, along with homes and properties and luxuries and amenities. For many, the morning routine of rush-hour traffic and time clock-punching has given way to joblessness and stillness.
Although it is not a stillness that passes without motion, for we are indeed moving forward into unknown areas and at frightening speeds.
As if trapped aboard a runaway bus, scores of individuals are tumbling over the edge. They are wondering where the bottom is and trying to imagine their encounter with it.
Eyes closed. Muscles tense. Teeth clenched. Bracing for impact. Hoping to survive the fall.
Most would assertively agree: These are troubling times.
Yet, might I suggest a slightly different perspective? Friend, these are 'shoveling' times.
The basis of my unsophisticated determination is found in Genesis chapter 26, verses 15-22.
As one who does not prefer to travel alone, come with me, if you will, and let's visit a man who was well acquainted with shoveling. If there is anyone in the bible who knows about shoveling times it is our brother, Isaac. The scenario is essentially this:
Isaac could have easily discovered sustenance and nourishment in the wells dug by his father, Abraham. Happily, he would have lowered his bucket and drunk of cool, life-giving water. His crops would be irrigated and his herds fully hydrated. And, doubtless, there would have been additional satisfaction knowing it was the servants of his beloved father who had dug the wells from which he drank.
However, there was one predicament that prevented such a pleasant unfolding; his enemies, the Philistines, had filled each of the wells with the earth from which they were initially dug.
They had become wells of nonexistence. Buried, covered over, forgotten, they were now one with the parched desert landscape upon which he walked.
Gone was the possibility to draw water. Gone was the potential to bathe and rejuvenate. And, gone was the exhausting labor of a friend of God. The wells of Abraham were no more.
Yet, Isaac did not wither in despair beneath the sweltering sun. He did not curse the men who initiated the extinction of the wells and eradicated their existence. Verse 18 simply says: Isaac dug again the wells of his father, Abraham.
What his enemy had smothered Isaac had unearthed.
Adversely for Isaac, and yet fortunately for us, the story does not end that smoothly or happily.
Isaac's servants also dug a well in the valley of Gerar and struck fresh spring water. Ideally, the well belonged to Isaac, as it was his men who had dug it. However, the herdsmen of Gerar had laid claims to it instead.
"This is our water", they insisted.
Again, Isaac refused to fuss and fret. He did not subscribe to a victim mentality. He did not attempt to hold on to that which he could not keep. He let it go, and he moved on. And, with the help of his men, Isaac dug another well.
Many of us feel as if we've been smothered, our wells packed with sand, our resources stripped away. Our plans have been altered, our lives interrupted, and our dreams buried. Yet, we can take a lesson from Isaac and dig another well.
It may not be what we desire, and it might run counter to our initiatives, but we must begin again. Dig another well.
The heat has intensified, but Isaac toiled beneath the desert sun and dug another well. The land feels dry and barren, but Isaac thrust his shovel downward and dug another well. There was risk of continued loss and resistance, but Isaac persevered and dug another well.
Grab a shovel, friend. Put on your gloves and lace up your boots. These are shoveling times we are living in. It's time to dig another well.
And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. (Galatians 6:9 KJV)
(This article was published in Pathway Christian Newspaper June 2011)
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