Around a year ago the Lord told me He was digging a new well in my life. Or, I suppose more accurately, He showed me this is what He was doing. The encouraging picture came to me at the tail end of a session of ministry I was receiving from a couple that moves powerfully in deliverance. It was an important revelation for me, because the ministry time ended with me more in frustration than freedom. Nothing at all against the couple, because I know they are servants of the Lord and are heavily anointed to set captives free. But things just didn’t work out the way I envisioned and I think issues arose from my overbearing expectations.
So, this idea of a new well being dug in my inner man has been an anchor I’ve clung to on more than one occasion this past year when I’ve found myself longing for a new level of inner freedom. The Lord has cultivated great fruit in my life these past six or seven years; ask many of my college friends how different I am and they will tell you the transformation has been significant. But I know my inheritance in Christ is an even fuller freedom. And I desire it.
Up until last night, I had understood that new well to be some unlocking of my full personality. Or maybe a progressive deliverance from some demonic stronghold that has held back the wells of salvation in my life. Or possibly a new level of joy and zest I’ve yet to experience. I didn’t know for sure what the Holy Spirit was referring to, but I was certain that it had everything to do with me and my freedom.
Well, I suppose that is still an accurate statement–“me and my freedom”, but, typical of the Lord, I’m now certain this new well He’s digging in my life is of a different nature than I’d thought. And that’s a GOOD thing! God wasn’t just looking to open me up more or make me a more vibrant person. He wasn’t even looking to cast a demon or two out of my life. He was looking to connect me directly to my source of living water.
Wells and Cisterns
In John 4:13-14, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
This water Jesus gives was defined as “living water” in verse 11—which is sourced from God Himself, “the fountain of living waters” (Jer 2:13). This refreshing, pure water is contrasted by the stagnant, even absent, water of a cracked cistern by the prophet Jeremiah in Jer. 2. One offers a continual source of life. The other essentially offers nothing.
The home I grew up in had a cistern; seemed like an indoor swimming pool to me when I was young. But as I got older, I realized it was not a place I would ever want to go for a dip. There was always a slight glaze over the water’s surface and it didn’t exactly smell like a fresh mountain spring. All I remember us doing with the water was filling the humidifier, watering plants and flushing the toilet if the power went out.
But for drinking water, we had our own well. We actually had to have our fresh water well re-drilled at some point before I left home. I can’t remember how deep they needed to go—100-some feet probably. But once they had drilled deep enough, they tapped a supply of fresh water that won’t run dry for a good, long while.
Jacob’s fresh water well was dug, by hand, some 125 ft deep and 7.5 ft in diameter. If my calculations are correct, that’s over 22,000 cubic feet of stone and earth Jacob moved to establish a consistent source of water for him, his family and his animals. No wonder it was so revered by the people of the land, including this Samaritan woman who was still drawing from it thousands of years later.
Yet Jesus, the Well of Salvation himself, invited the woman to cut her ties to the well of old and draw directly from him. And that is exactly what the Lord is initiating in my life in this season.
The Fountain of Life
I had not what I would call a rough day of work yesterday, but it was a draining one. It started with having to get up and out the door by 6:30 a.m. and I didn’t return until 6 p.m. And the day was full of “Can you fix this?” “Can you help me with this?” “Can you trouble shoot that?” “What’s the status of this?” “Can you give me feedback on that?” Just a lot of drawing on me. It made me feel very tapped and by the end of the day quite empty.
Driving home, I could feel myself shriveling up and wanting little to do with my wife and my dog, both whom I figured would want some of my attention when I returned. My mind told me I had every reason to feel that way, but my spirit man wasn’t buying it. Why did I need to feel empty? Why should I withdrawal? I serve the almighty God of the universe who neither slumbers nor sleeps! He’s not empty. He’s not tired. He’s not spent. Jesus, God incarnate, would walk all day to a village and then minister to the masses and then pray all night and do it again the next day. We don’t have records of him saying: “Not now; I’ll get to you some other time.”
And so I set myself to prayer for a while when I got home and that’s when God started showing me that the new well He’s digging isn’t to uncover some Joel 2.0… some new and improved and more free person. No, He’s digging a well directly to Himself. He’s sourcing me with life eternal, everlasting and all-powerful.
Now, I know that technically I’ve had this well available all along. Upon believing in my heart and confessing with my mouth, I’ve been saved and I have tasted of this living water. But note how Jesus tells the Samaritan woman “the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water…” This “will become” speaks of a process we undergo. The fire hydrant that is our inner man typically isn’t fully unleashed upon conversion. That kind of pressure and influence is often cultivated over time. (Though, even the most slowly and carefully dug well often still pop quite forcefully at the moment of breakthrough. But that discussion is for a different time.)
Most of us have wells we’ve been comfortably drawing from for years upon years. Be they certain authors, certain teachers, certain mentors or leaders. Or even certain go-to prayers and verses. Or worse yet, we have built for ourselves a leaky cistern of stagnate religion and idolatry where we’ve upheld timeless (and worthless) traditions, false ideologies and false gods.
In my life, over the past few months, the Lord has been showing me how He Himself wants to disciple and father me. Though He’ll still use gifted and anointed teachers, authors, leaders, friends and family to certain degree, He wants to take on the role of primary Mentor and Spiritual Father in my life. Though we’re all mentored and fathered by God indirectly through others, what God is beckoning me to is something much more personal than I’ve ever experienced or even thought possible. I don’t even know what it looks like, really, since this has all started transpiring in the last month or so. But I can feel the pull. I can feel the circumstantial demand for it He’s bringing about in my life. I can sense the holy dissatisfaction I have with all other sources of water. I can see the brokenness of the cisterns I’ve built over the years and the age of Jacob’s well.
They just won’t cut it. I must have the living water. I must have “the spring of water welling up to eternal life” spoken of by the Prophet. I must never be thirsty and empty again.
How precious is Your loving-kindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.
— Ps. 36:7-9