03 May 2011

Our saga of what I learned about Intermittent Internet when God taught Elsie Mae (and her mama) a lesson involving Isaac's wells...

Why don't I just go ahead and start with the bit about Isaac's wells...

Not too many days ago, I was working with Elsie Mae on her Bible lesson, and we came to one of those passages of Scripture (Genesis 26:12-25) that I've wondered (seven times now, as I'm on my seventh time working my way through the curriculum): "Why does God includes this story in the Bible?" I guess it could be there simply as an account of key events in the life of Isaac, but really, it just seems a transition from the story of Isaac lying about Rebekah to Abimelech and his later covenant with Rebekah. But crazy as it sounds, this time through the story, my little 4 year old pointed out how that time of transition was perhaps, one of the higher points - as far as obedience, trust and following the Lord - in the life of Isaac.

If you are all confused now, I don't blame you... let me try and explain. Genesis 26:1-12 starts off with a famine in the land and Isaac looking for a reliable way to provide for his family. So he heads for a powerful nearby king and God speaks to him, warning him not to head to Egypt, but to stay in the land and God would provide.

Perhaps God gave him this warning because he knew that sons often repeat the sins of their fathers, and He wanted to protect Isaac from the sins that Abraham committed when he fled to Egypt. Yet we see that Isaac did not trust completely - he relied at least some on his own wisdom and understanding. He obeyed and stayed... and repeated the sin of his father, lying about Rebekah and calling her his sister instead of his wife. Thankfully, God eventually revealed Isaac's deception to the pagan Abimelech, who acted more honorably in this situation than Isaac, and protected Rebekah when her husband didn't. I've always thought that must have been an amazing moment in Rebekah's wife, realizing that God moved in the heart of a powerful pagan king to protect her and her reputation when her husband failed to do so.
Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham.
 "I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;
 because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws."

And now here's the part that Elsie Mae found so interesting ~

God keeps His covenant and blesses Isaac. Isaac's wealth and power frightens Abimelech and he asks Isaac to pack up and leave. Obviously, if Isaac's "potential" frightened Abimelech, then he had some capacity to fight back or at least argue his right to be there. After all, he was where God had told him to be. He didn't.

He moves away and in some senses, is starting over in a new place. One of the first orders of business is digging a new well to provide water for his family and his herds. The well immediately becomes a source of contention.

So he leaves that well and digs a second one. It, too, results in conflict between Isaac's men and the local herdsmen.
Once again, he moves away to dig a third well and this time, as Isaac says, "At last the LORD has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land." No one protested and Isaac is confident he has found the place where God wanted him to pitch his tents.

I loved (please sense some sarcasm here) Elsie Mae's question at this point: "Mama, why do you think Isaac didn't fight and stop those bad guys from wrecking his wells?"

Um.... it isn't nice for four year olds to spring such deep questions on their unsuspecting mamas, so I did what all teachers have learned to do when asked a question and they have no clue of the answer - turn it right back around at their student. I told Elsie Mae, "Hon,  I'd rather hear why you think Isaac didn't fight over the wells and instead kept finding and digging new ones."

Her response floored me. She said, "Isaac 'as like Jesus. Jesus didn't fight dose bad people back who nailed Him on da cross where He died. Isaac made Jesus smile I dink, 'cause he let "uh"der people get their way and keep peace 'stead a pickin' fights.... (long pause) Dat's hard to do, Mama. I fight wif my Mary Michelle an Jonathan more dan I givin' dem deir way. I need let God fight for me. God musta been happy wif he. God talked to him again right after dat."

She was spot on. After Isaac dug that well, the Lord reappeard to Isaac, renewing His covenant with Abraham and now Issac - and there it says that Isaac called upon the name of the Lord.

I love it when the Holy Spirit teaches my kids - He does such an amazing job that I can't even come close to approximating! I love it almost as much when my Heavenly Father clearly speaks to me through the voices of these kids He's placed in our family. Frankly, I think Elsie Mae needed to hear that message - but not nearly so desperately as I did.

One of my biggest, piddly frustrations this past year has been one of those things that is not life threatening or changing but something that simply that irritates, inconveniences and annoys, driving you crazy until at some apparently little thing it all crashes in and you blow your stack and pity the soul who happens to be in the vicinity at the time that happens. It is one of those occurrences that just shouldn't happen, but it does anyway and there is seemingly nothing you can do to stop, change or prevent iut. Anyone else relate? Do you ever run into situations like that?

What frustration you ask? Internet service. It is there one minue and gone the next. Usually, all we ever have to do is call the phone company, inform them that our internet isn't working, hear them tell us that we need to pay our bill, then we remind them that we have paid the bill... it is, in fact, paid through the first part of June... hear silence over the phone and then the voice comes back... "Oh, you are absolutely right. Check your internet service now. It should be working."

I could understand that happening once or twice... but we actually went through a stretch recently where we were calling our internet service every few days... one day several times that day alone. It just shouldn't be that way. I wanted to stomp into the office, show my paid bill, demand to see the person in charge and find out why this kept happening. But that wouldn't have been Isaac's way, at least not according to this story. Sadly, it is my first tendency - not just with internet service providers, but also with co-workers, students I teach, my husband, my kids, neighbors, people at church who ask for help, etc...

In those moments, Isaac held his wells loosely and chose peace and not fighting back, even when he clearly had reason - he could have made a convincing argument that God's will was to claim what was rightfully his - even when doing so inconvenienced him greatly... As we've been learning lately, in real life, digging wells is not an easy or convenient process, even in this day and age. God was pleased with Isaac's choices and He blessed.

Sadly, though, the well saga moves into the account of a covenant Isaac makes with Abimelech. It is one thing to lay aside our rights and expectations to accomodate those in this world around us as we pursue a path of peace. It is another thing to enter into a covenant relationship with one who does not recognize our God under the guise of peace but with the additional motivation of personal material gain. Isaac already had God's promises and blessing; he'd already demonstrated that he could live in peace with his pagan neighbors without covenanting with them. Of course the world seeks close relationship when benefits are clear. Affiliating with a man unmistakeably experiencing God's blessing was a wise move for Abimelech. The Bible, however, is clear about unequal yoking and there are always consequences. We see some of those in Isaac's life immediately. His favorite son chose two wives... he covenanted with two women... from the pagan world around them. And God's Word states that this "brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah."

Thankful, today, for lessons learned from my little girl and the reminder that I can choose to be at peace with those around, even when beliefs and priorities differ greatly. While I can't compromise convictions or clear commands, I can cede rights and desires for the sake of peace, allowing God to fight the battle in His way and in His timing... to thus please the only One Whose pleasure counts... and it counts for eternity.


  1. That is really cool :)

  2. thanks dj... didn't know you ever popped over here for a look ;-)


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